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Today marks the beginning of a series of columns on what I consider a very important topic…your reputation. You will notice above though, that I use the plural form, reputations, in the title. While we often talk about one, monolithic, reputation, I believe that there are a series of reputations that make up the whole. Each column in this series will focus on one particular reputation that makes up your overriding reputation. By examining each one in detail, I hope to provide you specific areas where you can alter and improve your work, your actions and your thoughts so that your overall professional reputation grows.
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It is often said that you can’t “do” projects, you can only do the individual tasks that make up the project and achieve the desired result. The same can be said for reputation. You don’t build your reputation as a whole, you cultivate the smaller reputations that create it. Each individual action builds your reputation in unique ways and each requires some thought in regards to how they relate to the whole.
Over the next several weeks, I will be focusing on the following reputations, and perhaps more, as I am sure that each column will effect those that come after. That said, here are the major points I will be covering in the coming weeks.
A Reputation for Fairness
Do you deal fairly with those around you? Are your choices self-serving ones, driven by politics, fear and greed? Do you expect more from those around you than you yourself are willing to give?
A Reputation for Honesty
Do you tell the truth…all the time? Do you hide problems until it is too late? Do you face up to mistakes and are you prepared to correct them? Do you simply tell others what you think they want to hear?
A Reputation for Decision-making
Do you make decisions quickly or are you mired in the depths of analysis paralysis? Are you prepared to make mistakes, as everyone does, knowing it is a natural part of success? Are you prepared to decide, even when it means you might fail?
A Reputation for Empathy
Do you truly feel for those around you? Can you place yourself in their shoes when it is time to make tough decisions? Are you isolated, Marie Antoinette-style, from those around you, making decisions in a vacuum, where your only thought is how it effects you?
A Reputation for Clear Thinking
Is your thinking muddled and confused? Can you find your way through the confusing fog of conflicting goals, data and thinking? Do you allow others to tell you what to think instead of thinking yourself? Can you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs?
A Reputation for Trustworthiness
Can people trust you…all day…every day…no matter the temptations that you might face? Do you abuse people’s trust while exhibiting little of your own? Are you a hard-bitten cynic who expects the worse from those around you?
A Reputation for Helpfulness
Are you ready to chip in and help someone, even if it isn’t “your job?” Do you look for opportunities to help others, even when they might not realize they need help? Do you accept help from others easily?
A Reputation for Clarity
Do your co-workers understand your projects, your goals, your directions or is your work a constant litany of misunderstandings, recriminations and a struggle to make things clear?
A Reputation for the Big Picture…and the small
Are you able to see the Big Picture of a project and all the individual pieces that make up that project? Does your focus always fall on your area of strength, allowing other segments to falter and fail?
A Reputation for Balancing Work and Self
Is your work your life? Do you understand when it is important to make decisions for your own benefit, even when it might conflict with your work? Is your work life as fulfilling as your home life? Does your family support you and do you support your family?
All of these smaller reputations, and more, make up your “Reputation” with a capital “R”. Each can raise or lower people’s opinion of you and directly effect your ability to succeed in your career. They also point the way when building a career or finding the next job. Do the reputations you cultivate match with the business where you work? Does the company regularly violate your beliefs about important reputations? Are you trying to develop a reputation that goes against the very structure and history of your industry?
Join me over the next several weeks as we do some hard thinking, together, about the nature of these reputations, as well as how best to build your reputation.