In every facet of our lives, reputation is among our most treasured and powerful qualities. In its simplest, it is what others think of us. In its most complex, it affects everything we do, everything we say, everyone around us and everything we try to accomplish… private and public, personal and professional.
On the road to success, there is nothing more important than reputation when it comes to a strong foundation on which we build our relationships, our decisions and our careers.
For some, reputation makes the difference between success and failure. For others, it creates a special opportunity to move beyond the ordinary and accomplish the extraordinary. For still others, it offers a unique advantage to overcome challenges that otherwise might have been considered daunting or even impossible.
The simple fact is that reputation – whatever our chosen field – can help build strong careers and, as some have learned the hard way, can break them.
While reputation might be difficult for many people to describe and impossible for others to quantify, most can quickly point to those individuals and colleagues who are worthy of our confidence and just as quickly point to those who are not. When pressed to think about the qualities of reputation, people will most often tell you that it is a combination of trust, character, promises made and promises fulfilled.
Some will also say that reputation and perception are closely linked. They are right, so much so that for many, as the saying goes, perception is reality.
The most important lesson is that our individual reputation is up to each one of us. We control what we do and what we say. In other words, we control how we behave and, as a result, how others see us. Reputation is not something that just happens, nor is it something that we should leave to chance. Over time, we can build the kind of reputation that will serve us well. Of utmost importance though, it must be genuine or else it will not stand the test of time.
A strong reputation is enormously powerful. In my experience, it is made up of three critical elements: trust, character and communication.
By themselves, the importance of these three elements surely is not new, nor anything we haven’t thought about or been taught by our parents, teachers, mentors and all those who are interested in our careers.
Reputation – driven by trust, character and communication – creates the platform for our success, whatever our chosen field and whatever our profession. Our reputation is most often the result of how we are seen by others, based on our behavior. In its simplest form, the questions to ask ourselves are: Did we do what we said we would do? And did we do it with the right values underlying our actions?
This web site and my forthcoming book – The Power of Reputation, to be published by American Management Association (AMACOM) and available in book stores and on line in Spring 2012 – are designed to help build successful careers. They are for all those who aspire to be managers and for all those who want to continue to advance in more and more senior positions, regardless of the type of organization where they work.
The fact is that reputation is critical to career success, whether in a trade association, private or publicly-traded business – large or small – a non-profit organization, a public service organization, a medical/health care or hospital group, an educational institution or university. In every management role, skill at managing others requires a strong and well-defined reputation where the individual’s character makes him or her well-suited to the job at hand. Moreover, the individual is worth of trust and the mantle of leadership.
No one ever questions the importance of reputation. Regardless of whom you ask, everyone will attest to its importance and its role as a building block of success.
There are many tough questions, though. Most of them center on how to build a worthy reputation. What to do? What the keys to reputation? What other things are important? What steps do I need to take? How do I share my thinking when I make a decision? Will I be understood by what I do? How do I handle tough situations? If I make a mistake, can I recover and go on?
This web site and the book address all of those questions and more, framed by what experience has taught me are the Seven Keys to Reputation:
First, Reputation is powerful.
Second, Reputation can be shaped.
- Third, Trust is the foundation of relationships.
- Fourth, Character and respect are vital for leadership and success.
- Fifth, Communication makes reputation real and brings it to life.
- Sixth, Reputation and perception are closely linked.
- And seventh, Your reputation is one of, if not the most important priority you have.