10 TOP TIPS for Building Your Reputation At Work
What you do, how you do it, what others think and say about you = your reputation. Credibility is a huge part of perceived leadership qualities.
Look the Leader
Look the part.
Dress, look, talk the part. Use appropriate language and behaviours. Practice the language and appearance of a leader. Always be in control (watch for any impulsive, overly excitable or overly extreme emotional reactions or outbursts). Speak to superiors as colleagues – show you consider yourself valued. Remember: People only treat us the way that we accept being treated. Not reacting to even extreme provocation keeps us in control. Step up when there is a leadership vacuum, whether a meeting that’s got side-tracked or a project that’s lost its way. Show a gentle hand of guidance where needed. These are the moments you’ll be seen and make your mark.
Manage perceptions of you.
Perception is often more influential than reality when it comes to reputation. Be mindful of how you are seen particular by those that can influence you. Be aware of cultural nuance within organisations and teams you work with. Manage what you communicate both explicitly and implicitly. For example let’s look at emails. In some organisations replying to emails early in the morning and late in the evening implies a long hard-working day in between these hours. Be careful to reply or act on emails in a timely manner. (Watch out for losing email to SPAM boxes). But also be careful not to respond to difficult emails when you’re emotionally compromised or rushed. If in doubt come back to and re-read the ‘draft’ the next morning, before you send it. Always have auto-spelling and grammar check on which checks emails before you send. Always read an outgoing email as if it’s been leaked and ask if it’s appropriate.
Identify your successes.
Be clear about them. Update CV/ Linkedin regularly before you forget the subtle but important details. As you will forget some. This will clarify your successes and skills and build your confidence. Reference and leverage them. Be careful not to seem boastful but remember your CV is your key marketing tool. It can be key in influencing your reputation externally. It’s possible to reference them as relevant and talk about them in a matter of fact way or better yet get others to. This may be within teams or meetings or one to ones or where people ask for your support, technical help or input outside of your role. Give such help freely and happily where possible and where it doesn’t infringe of your other priorities.
Find your voice.
Know your strengths. Play to them. Work around or build up your weak areas. Be clear what you can change about yourself and what you cannot. Be strong in your conviction of things but remain open where it matters. Check yourself regularly here. Check your balance of asserting your thoughts and needs with respecting the needs of others. This assertiveness-empathy balance is a critical skill to master in finding your voice that others will listen to.
Be prepared and forward-looking.
Showing overall preparedness and control in your role is very important – show that you’re ‘on top’ of it and then some. Show up for meetings prepared and leading the ideas and initiatives. Have stated goals and key questions that you require from the meeting clearly outlined beforehand. Being mindful of the area, group and organisation’s direction and culture will mean you’re always mindful of the overall terms of reference within which you work.
Be honest and follow through on promises. Do it if you say you will and on time or better yet– early. Be reliable and honest in your dealings with people. ‘Under-promise – over-deliver’. Always be clear when you’ve delivered on time and under budget. Planning well is an integral part of this. Be clear on integrity. Never bad-mouth anyone, always keep your cool, hold off critically judging anyone in the open. People will trust you more if they see you respect others and manage yourself with dignity.
Take responsibility and forgive others
Show forgiveness for others’ mistakes (be kind on yourself too for that matter) and change any negative into both positive-speak and action ASAP. If people can see you made a mistake ‘own up’ and put it right without fuss and move on. When you feel yourself blaming stop and ask yourself where you can take responsibility and guard against the negative situation for the future.
Master and protect your domain.
Be careful to be seen as the ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ of your ‘area’ and watch-out for being blind-sided by related issues, areas. Know your area and everything that it relates to. Be clear on the technical, process and people components. Pre-empt. If you think you’re going to be given more work and can’t avoid it – don’t be seen avoiding it – go grab it. Or if it really is too much or not in your interest – prepare your case carefully and put out reasons carefully to decision-makers to test the waters if need be. Then present your case as soon as possible before other areas, decisions are made which may re-enforce any new structure or perceptions. Hard-working: Let people know you’ve your nose to the grind-stone without it grinding you down. It may be ‘full on’ but ‘show’ all is under control.
Inspire & Care for People.
Be optimistic and inspire others.
Spread optimism to stakeholders. Be the one seen to pull a team together, who encourages when times are tough. People most appreciate it when it’s really needed and when everyone else is worried about their own ‘bit’ the one who shows wider concern looks more like the leader. Show you’re a team player. Help others succeed and look good. In carrying out careful stakeholder analysis you’ll be strategically well-placed and also notice other’s issues before they do (as well as your own). Making a well observed assertion, clarification, knowledge –update before others see it will get you noticed and show you as a team-player especially if you have a solution too. Think of your senior people’s needs, and in particular your boss’s. Be mindful what’s on their plate and their horizon. They’ll value you highly for showing you see this.
Show you care.
Build your capacity to be compassionate and practice caring, supportive behaviour every day. Be (sincerely) complimentary to people. Point out people’s value to others where appropriate. Although this is the last on the list it may well be the most important. People like to be with and work with, people they like. You’ll be sought as a confidant, friend, respected peer. People will be easier on you and forgive you more easily in return too. Ultimately the most important skill in leadership, as in all meaningful relationships for that matter, is ‘showing you care’. Strive to do this in all you do and you will build your reputation from the core.