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7 Ways to Improve Your Reputation as a Leader

7 Ways to Improve Your Reputation as a Leader

Your leadership reputation is critical to your success and the success of your venture. Your reputation is the overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general. It is the recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability in you. It’s not what you think it is. Or should be.

For example, “She’ll always have my back.” Or “She’s only out for herself first.” Or, “What a jerk!”

These may not be nice things to say, socially appropriate, or politically correct. But they are what people say. And they are saying it about you. Quietly in their minds…over coffee with a colleague…and particularly after a couple of glasses of wine.

I met a leader the other day who bristled when I used the word “reputation” to describe how people may seen her in her workplace. She didn’t understand her power as it relates to her reputation.

Your reputation is what others unconsciously expect from you…before you walk in the room. And leaders have powerful reputations.

The most salient reason why leaders’ reputations are so powerful is because they have power over peoples’ lives.

Leaders control the rewards people get. They have control over unpleasant things in their peoples’ lives like a bad shift, a transfer, or even whether they remain with the organization. And they often control the salary people receive that pays their rent and feeds their families.

As Marshall Goldsmith says, “Amid all your list-making, organizing, and planning your next move, when was the last time you sat down and thought about your reputation?”

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Probably never. It’s not something we naturally do.

But it can be a very powerful thing to do.

You see it’s powerful because it helps you reduce blind spots in your leadership. And blind spots can be a killer.

You are creating the culture of your business or the group you work with from the moment you step into it. A simple but practical definition of culture that I like is “how we get things done.”

Not what’s in the policy book or the SOP guide. But how we get things done.

And so, let’s touch upon my previous examples.

  • If our fictitious leader’s reputation is: “She’ll always have my back,” then what do you think her people will do for her? They will have her back. They will go beyond the normal job description for her. In our business jargon these days we might say that she’ll likely have engaged employees.
  • But if the fictitious leader’s reputation is “She always looks out for herself first,” then it’s likely people will see her as a bit of dangerous ground. They won’t trust her. And it will be very hard for her to achieve her goals.

The danger is not knowing what your reputation is.

Working in the dark, so to speak.

You can’t control what people think about you but you can influence it. And your influence is determined by your actions. Your character as some would call it.

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But for you to change your reputation, if it needs changing, then you first need to be aware of it.

Bob Anderson and Bill Adams, authors of Mastering Leadership, say that leaders need to keep their promises, set the right strategic direction, keep the organization on track, execute efficiently, and to effectively lead the organization to produce results that sustain the business. And depending on where you sit within the organization you may be expected to set a vision that captures people’s imagination and provides inspiration, to engage employees in meaningful work, and, of course, model how people are treated and valued.

That’s a lot. And that is why leading is difficult.

But to meet these demands, leaders must increase both their competence and consciousness. This means being committed to their own personal development as well as being committed to developing the people they serve.

And one way to improve is to increase your awareness of the reputation you are creating around you.

As part of my work, I do executive coaching with leaders and I always use some form of assessment to help the leader increase their consciousness or awareness about themselves. How they are showing up in the workplace; not how they think they are showing up, but how others see them showing up.

And this, as you can imagine, can be quite complex.

The leader and I use this assessment to shine a light on their blind spots so that we can peer in. And that gives the leader the power to make a shift.

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If we don’t know what people are saying about us, we have no opportunity to change our behavior to influence our reputation

And feedback can help a leader increase their awareness of their reputation.

You can’t control what people think about you but you can influence it. And your influence is determined by your actions. What you say and do.

As Dan Rockwell says, “Good reputations are earned slowly and lost quickly. One major blunder outweighs many contributions.”

Here are the seven things you can do to help you with your reputation.

1. Find out what your reputation is. Ask people whom you trust. Send out a survey so people can answer anonymously. Get a colleague to ask around for you. Look for the truth.

2. Be thoughtful about what you want your reputation to be. Ask yourself, “How do I want to show up at work?” And then ask yourself why.

3. Find out what you are doing well to build a strong reputation and then deepen your strengths in what you do well. Your strengths will serve you well.

4. Find out what is holding you back. This is often based in some assumption we make about life and how to get things done. As a young guy, I carried the mistaken assumption that I needed to be liked. That was my number one goal. And wow was I wrong! It held me back in my career and inhibited me from getting good results. Thank goodness I’ve let that go.

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5. Now pick one way that you can let go of what’s holding you back. Something that will be big and powerful.

6. Get some accountability in your life around the changes you want to make. From both the strengthening side and the modifying side. If you don’t engage some accountability it won’t happen. I guess I shouldn’t say never but the odds are stacked strongly against you. Often I, as an executive coach, play the role of accountability partner with a leader. But it can be done in lots of other ways.

Declare what you are working on to others. Your boss, your peers, the people who report to you, your friends, and your family. Ask them what you could do immediately to make a difference. Thank them. Don’t get defensive.

7. Finally, assign a time in your schedule once a week for you to reflect on how you are doing. Leave the office or wherever you work. Go and sit by yourself in a coffee shop or go for a walk. Think about what you’ve set for your reputation goals, what you have done this week to achieve them, and what you’ve let slip. Trust me. Something will slip. We are human. And you are busy. Then recommit for the next week.

Almost everybody is a little nervous about getting some feedback about themselves. I was.

But it can be one of the most powerful tools to help you be a better leader and therefore have success in whatever is important to you.

I laughed when I saw an article the other day that referenced gaining and losing a reputation. I chuckled because you never lose a reputation. You change a reputation. For the better or worse.

And while you have different circumstances to deal with that significantly influence the successes of your ventures, only you control your reputation and the power it has on your leadership and its influence on the success of your work.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on July 27, 2020

How to Find Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Purpose

How to Find Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Purpose

I wrote a few articles about starting a business based on something you love doing and are passionate about. I received several responses from people saying they weren’t sure how to go about figuring out what they were most passionate about or how to find their true purpose. So I’m dedicating this article to these issues — how to find your entrepreneurial passion and purpose.

When I work with a new client, the first thing we talk about is lifestyle design. I ask each client, “What do you want your life to look like?” If you designed a business without answering this question, you could create a nice, profitable business that is completely incompatible with your goals in life. You’d be making money, but you’d probably be miserable.

When you’re looking for your life purpose, lifestyle design isn’t a crucial component. However, since we’re talking about entrepreneurial purpose, lifestyle design is indeed crucial to building a business that you’ll enjoy and truly be passionate about.

For example, say you want to spend more time at home with your family. Would you be happy with a business that kept you in an office or out of town much of the time? On the flip side, if you wanted to travel and see the world, how well could you accomplish that goal if your business required your presence, day in and day out, to survive? So start by getting some clarity on your personal goals and spend some time working on designing your life.

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At this point, you may need a little prodding, and you may want to hire a coach or mentor to work with you through this process. Many people are very used to the idea that there is a particular way a life “should” be. There are certain milestones most people tend to live by, and if you don’t meet those markers when or in the manner you’re “supposed” to meet them, that can cause some anxiety.

Here’s how to find your passion and purpose:

Give Yourself Permission to Dream a Little

Remember that this is your life and you can live it however you choose. Call it meditation or fantasy, but let your imagination run here. And answer this question:

“If you had no fears or financial limitations, what would your ideal life, one in which you could be totally content and happy, look like?”

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Once you’ve figured out your lifestyle design, it’s time to do a little more soul-searching to figure out what you’re truly passionate about. This is a time to really look within and look back.

Specifically, look back over your life history. When were you the happiest? What did you enjoy doing the most? Remember that what you’re looking for doesn’t necessarily have to be an entire job, but can actually be aspects of your past jobs or hobbies that you’ve really enjoyed.

Think About a Larger Life Purpose

Many successful entrepreneurs have earned their place in history by setting out to make a difference in the world. Is there a specific issue or cause that is important to you or that you’re particularly passionate about?

For some, this process of discovery may come easily. You may go through these questions and thought experiments and find the answers quickly. For others, it may be more difficult. In some cases, you may suffer from a generalized lack of passion and purpose in your life.

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Sometimes, this can come from having suppressed passion in your life for too long. Sometimes, it can come from eating poorly and lack of exercise. But occasionally, it may have something to do with your internal chemistry or programming. If the latter applies to you, it may be useful for you to seek help in the form of a coach, mentor, or counselor.

In other cases, not knowing your true purpose may be a matter of having not discovered it yet: you may not have found anything that makes your heart beat faster. If this is the case, now is the time to explore!

The Internet is a fantastic tool for learning and exploration. Search hobbies and careers and learn as much as you can about any topic that triggers your interest, then follow up at the library on the things that really intrigue you. Again, remember that this is your life and only you can give yourself permission to explore all that the world has available to you.

How Do You Know When You’ve Found Your True Entrepreneurial Purpose?

I can only tell you how I knew when I had discovered my own — it didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks. Rather, it settled over me, bringing a deep sense of peace and commitment. It felt like I had arrived home and knew exactly what to do and how to proceed.

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Everything flowed easily from that point forward. That’s not to say that I found success immediately after that moment. But rather, the path ahead of me was clear, so I knew what to do.

Decisions were easier and came faster to me. And success has come on MY terms, according to my own definitions of what success means to me in my own lifestyle design.

Dig deep, look within, and seek whatever help you need. Once you find that purpose and passion, your life — not just your entrepreneurial life, but your entire life — will never be the same.

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