Reputation… what’s that?

Reputation is a thing of two parts, the things that we do, and the things people say about them.  If I was going to be more accurate, I would add that the key thing is not just the things that we do, but how others perceive them!  These days managing this is a multi-billion dollar industry.  The idea is that by controlling the media they can modify what others perceive and therefore say about us.  I guess, like they say, money talks, and they think it tells us how to think.  However, I’d like to suggest a more fundamental focus, and ask you to focus on the first element… what you do.

If you do the right things, and even better, if you do them for the right reasons, then that makes not only a statement, but builds a truly solid foundation for your reputation.  Hopefully these actions spring from the core of who you are, hence the current attention to the importance of authenticity.  There is an exercise that can be quite telling, and that is getting you to write your own obituary.  If you don’t like it, or don’t feel it is enough, now is the time to change and do something different, or something more!

I would suggest that you don’t so much ‘manage’ your reputation as build it, in the same sense that a mason builds a wall, based on solid foundations, with things that have substance.  One thing you can do is to see if what you are doing is valued by those whose good opinion you seek.  In other words, if you are focusing your efforts and resources on things they don’t care about then they are unlikely to hold you in high regard.  Make a difference to their lives or businesses and you’ll be a hero! 

The second element of influencing what people say is more subtle.  I would suggest a key is explaining your plans and actions in language they can understand and in terms of things they care about.  For example, an MD talking to his workers should be talking about growth in terms of bonuses and job security not share price.  One might lead to the other but don’t expect your audience to make that leap.  Also they will, probably rightly, assume the things you talk about are what you care about.  Tell them the truth, clearly, and you will earn respect, if not popularity, and that is a step in the right direction!

“Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”  George Burns

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