5 Ways to Build Your Reputation as a Leader
People justify their judgement once they tag you with a reputation.
Character is more important than reputation. But leaders ignore the latter to their peril.
You have one:
Reputation is the way people think of you.
You want a reputation that reflects your true self. But leaders sometime lose themselves to a role. When that happens reputation becomes frustration.
Henry Ford missed something when he said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Actually, you earn a reputation as a weak do-nothing leader if life is always about intention apart from action.
Short-sighted leaders might say, “I don’t care what people think of me.” If leadership was done in a vacuum, what people think of you wouldn’t matter.
Leaders who don’t care about reputation are disconnected, aloof, or short-sighted.
Manage your reputation or someone else will.
“All you have in business is your reputation …” Richard Branson
- Determine how you want to be known. Consider your aspirations, strengths, and intentions.
- Listen to the language people use to describe you. Where do you hear alignment? Misconception?
- Accept that perceptions are real, even if you believe they are false. You might not like it when someone says you talk too much and listen too little. Accept it.
- Practice behaviors that reflect your character. Suppose you’re a kind person.
- Find ways to be kind when you’re having tough conversations. But don’t avoid tough conversations.
- Express kindness, especially when you feel overworked.
- Ask individuals what kindness looks like in your culture.
- Think about kind people. What are they doing? Do that.
- Be positive with yourself. Don’t say, “I should have more kindness.” (Someone who is kind might say that.) Say, “I’m finding ways to express kindness.”
You might lack self-awareness if your reputation doesn’t reflect who you really are.
How might leaders build reputation?
During the course of my service, I found that with every new promotion, and leadership position, there came with it more power, authority, and more responsibilities. These responsibilities, that I speak of, were to the people that served with me. My perspective was that I needed to nurture, develop, and protect these individuals, due to the fact that they were the factors that made our organization successful. This was the reputation that I wanted to cultivate for myself and others. Simply put, my reputation, or brand, was to use a leadership as a means to inspiring and promoting the works of others. It took years to build this type of reputation, however, the benefits of watching your people and organization grow is priceless.
Another great post, Dan.
Thanks Danial. I respect your comment. One thing that stands out to me is the subtlety of your language. Your words seem to reflect the brand you wanted to develop. You wrote… “responsibilities to the people.” That’s powerful.
Thanks for jumping in. I think we all know that it takes years to build a reputation.
One power of reputation is people can predict how they believe we will respond to situations. This brings trust and stability to relationships and performance.
I learned how to build my reputation by watching others. Some I learned what to do, some I learned what “not” to do. I also learned that having a non-judgmental approach to all situations helps you build a consistent brand and helps people want to share with you. Consistency is also so important. Don’t leave them guessing how you will approach things. Approach them with the same servant leadership you have learned and people will flock to you. Having a pleasant persona helps as well. I am fairly jovial and like to laugh and smile. That is part of my reputation as a leader, nothing I have to work to make happen, I am just naturally like that and it helps me!
Thanks Dawn. Great strategy.
I find that being judgmental is about the story we tell ourselves about others. It’s so powerful and freeing to stay open rather than telling a negative story. Your comment is challenging and encouraging.
The idea of being pleasant helps. However, I find leaders struggle to navigate the soft and tough side of leadership. It seems there is either too much softness and issues don’t get addressed or there is too much toughness and people are unnecessarily de-motivated. Thanks again.
I agree, my folks know that I am pleasant and firm. It’s kind of like how you handle children too, you can’t be too soft, but you can’t be a raving lunatic either. I had to deliver very tough news today, but I did it, and no one died from it. I kept this person’s heart in tact while making the point. Neither too soft, nor too hard, right in the middle. In our next meeting we will set a game plan in place. I love this stuff and I always get something from your posts and the comments of others! I share your blog to every aspiring leader and current leader I know!
“I kept this person’s heart intact…” wow!!
I really liked this post. I learned back in my early 20’s that it truly matters what others perception was of you. Perception translates to effective leadership. I use to believe that it wasn’t my responsibility to base what I did off of perception and while it’s not the only deciding factor, I have realized that peoples perception must be taken into account. Keep up the good work!
Thanks Breann. It takes some of half a lifetime to learn that. When we’re young we’re pretty full of ourselves. Maybe I should say when I was young!
My Leadership capability will never be actualized until I develop Leadership in those entrusted to me to the point that they surpass my level of responsibility. My perceived level of Leadership is in direct correlation with my employee’s perception of my Servanthood.
I am grateful that I have not had a sleepless night with respect to my reputation. Servant leadership is the toughest role to take in a culture where talk is abundant with none of the walk. I’ve applied whatever I’ve learnt and still there’s more to learn!
20 years ago I became fascinated with leadership and I’m grateful that I have never had a sleepless night keeping my reputation intact. Servant leadership is the toughest role one undertakes but it’s a role I relish. To work in a culture where talk is abundant without the walk, I can at least hold my head up high.