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There’s a “word on the street” about all of us. It’s what people say behind our backs when we aren’t in the room.

Your reputation represents the way others see you. What are they saying about you?

reputation, positive leadership, leadership development, leadership skills, leadership styles

Your reputation is like a shadow, following you wherever you go for life. You can’t hide it, and you can’t run from it. It can become your very best friend or your own worst enemy. It can open doors to marvelous opportunities or cause those doors to be slammed right in your face.

The Benefits of a Good Reputation

  • Social proof.  What happens when everyone prefers product A over product B?  We tend to believe that product A is better.  And when people are saying great things about you, everyone will naturally believe that you’re great too.
  • Protection.  You can’t always prevent someone from maligning you,  but a good reputation can come to your rescue as others rise to your defense in times of trouble. In many ways, we are all caretakers of each other’s reputations.
  • Motivation.  A good reputation provides you with a target at which to keep aiming. Rather than fret about your weaknesses, let your good reputation serve as motivation for you to continue to improve yourself.
  • Marketing.  When I find a service provider whose performance outshines their competition, they are like gold to me. I use them repeatedly, recommend them enthusiastically to others, and don’t begrudge paying them what they’re worth. In the same way, your good reputation will attract others who want to connect with and support you.
  • Inspiration.  A good reputation inspires others. And now more than ever, we need positive role models for others to look up to and emulate.

Your reputation is constantly evolving. Over time, the cumulative observations of your words and your actions form the basis of your reputation. And it’s not only what you do, but also how others perceive your motives that often matters most.

Some may think reputation shouldn’t matter…that you should just focus on doing your best and let others think what they may. Certainly, I agree you should never try to manipulate what others think about you, but ignoring the importance of a good reputation can result in many missed opportunities.

Because your reputation is so critical for your success, you want to do all that you can to improve it. And there is always room for improvement!

As with most things, it takes more time to build your reputation than to destroy it. Building a good reputation requires considerable effort and patience. Here are some strategies that can improve your reputation over time:

5 Ways to Improve Your Reputation

 1.  Be consistent.  When your behavior is steady and reliable, your actions become predictable. This enables people to form an impression of you and anticipate your future behavior. As time goes on, any deviation from your normal behavior is characterized as an anomaly or that you’re having “a bad day.”On the other hand, if your behavior is typically erratic and unpredictable, you’re sending mixed messages and leaving your reputation open to misinterpretation. Always think before you act. Count to 10 before losing your temper, sending a flaming email, or making a sarcastic remark — or you may live to regret it.

2.  Be dependable.  Don’t just talk about hard work, attention to detail, loyalty, and drive – live them out. Take on extra responsibilities, but be sure you can follow through with them. Some people fail to build a good reputation because they never take on any responsibility. Others build a bad reputation because they offer to take on big responsibilities and can’t follow through. You don’t have to be perfect – the occasional failure is acceptable and expected, but it should follow a string of successful performance to avoid any damage to your reputation.

3.  Be respectful.  Every time you interact with people and every time you talk to someone, they walk away with an impression of you. So it’s important to show respect to everyone you meet. People are watching you (at all times) to see:

Was that joke in bad taste?
How did you respond to your colleague after that disagreement?
Are you tactful in sharing difficult feedback?
Did you help your colleague when he or she was in a pinch?
Do you play office politics?
Do you gossip about others?
Can you keep a secret?
Are you a team player or merely out for yourself?
How do you react under pressure?
Were you gracious in accepting the award?
Do you accept responsibility for your actions and apologize if necessary?

4.  Manage your online “first impression.”  In the old days, when you were going to meet a person and wanted to know more about what to expect, you’d ask other people that already knew the person. Is he nice? Is she trustworthy? Nowadays, we don’t ask other people – we “google” them. Don’t deny it…you’ve done it too! When you want to find out more information about a person, you just google their name (or look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc).  Like it or not, the internet is now part of your reputation. You’ll have potential employers googling you, current employers Facebooking you, and clients checking online to see who you are and what you are worth. What will they find?  Further, keep in mind that the Internet can spread news to thousands of people around the world at the click of a mouse, with permanent consequences. For that reason, nasty rumors and gossip must be addressed head-on before irreparable damage occurs.

5.  Stand for something of value.  Your reputation is much too valuable to treat casually. But if you don’t know what you stand for, you’re leaving it all to chance. What do you really stand for? Who is the “real you”? How would you define your values and core principles? What matters most to you in life? If you were tasked with writing your obituary today, what three things would best describe you?

Values matter, so operate with integrity at all times. Do what’s right. Period. That way, you’ll never have to look over your shoulder to see who’s watching.

Take pride in what you do. Don’t be afraid of failing at something that matters…be more afraid of succeeding at something that doesn’t matter. Make sure that what you’re doing is worthy of your best self.

Accept responsibility for your actions. If things go wrong despite your best intentions, don’t try to hide it or push the blame on others. Face the music with an apology and share a plan for how you will do better in the future.

Let your conscience be your guide. Your character matters most when no one else is watching.

Your reputation is uniquely yours and remains with you for life. You need to protect it like it’s the most valuable asset you own – because it is!

You can’t escape your shadow, but you can successfully shape your reputation. The best way to build a good reputation? Become a person who deserves one.


Emotional intelligence is the other kind of smart. Decades of research point to EQ as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest. It explains 58% of success in all types of jobs, making it a more accurate predictor of achievement than IQ.

EQ is much more than “playing well with others.” It is a specific set of measurable emotional and social skills that impact how you handle yourself and your relationships. Your emotional intelligence impacts most everything you say and do each day.

The good news is that EQ is not fixed, but can be cultivated with deliberate practice and training.

EQ training can help you:

  • understand what emotional intelligence is
  • develop skills to raise your EQ
  • increase your self-awareness to see your “blind spots” more accurately
  • face challenges with more composure
  • build and maintain a larger network of supportive social relationships
  • accelerate your leadership development
  • enhance your life purpose, satisfaction, and success

Discover how to harness the power of your own “people skills” here:

Dr. Stefani Yorges

I am a psychologist and professional leadership coach. I partner with people who want to rise to their full potential so they can have an increasingly greater impact on others.

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