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If you ask people you admire if reputation is an important component of their careers, the answer undoubtedly will be “yes.” Ask them how they built their reputations, and the response likely will include the time it took and how it needs to be guarded, recognizing that a good reputation can be shattered in moments.
Everyone has a reputation, whether they know what it is or agree with it. Other people talk about your reputation, judge you by it, or try to assess whether it is good or bad. Actively building a good reputation will help you be a better manager and boost your career.
“When I interview someone or review their performance, I look for a strong work ethic, intellectual curiosity and the courage to stand up for what they believe in,” says Celia Berk, chief talent officer for Young & Rubicam Group, a New York-based marketing and communications firm. “I look for ambition, but not carried out at the expense of others.”
Good reputations can’t be built by following a formula. And, while there are no specific steps to take in every situation, there are guidelines.
Qualities That Count
Reputation is built up or torn down on character, communication and trust. Conduct yourself accordingly:*Be introspective and honest with yourself. As hard as it might be at times, think through what you did and why you did it. Do your own review after every meeting and assignment.
Protect Your Reputation
It’s not enough to build a good reputation; you also have to protect it and maintain it. Check in with yourself and ask if you are consistently acting in a way that promotes a good reputation. How do your employees feel about working for you? Are they engaged? Empowered? Do they come to you freely with problems, ideas and solutions? Do they feel safe enough to admit their mistakes? If so, they will go to the ends of the earth for you. And, you have a reputation that will boost your career, not break it.
Chris Komisarjevsky retired as worldwide chief executive officer of global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in 2005. He is author of The Power of Reputation: Strengthen the Asset That Will Make or Break Your Career (AMACOM, 2012).
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