As you build your organization’s character and reputation, know that it also reflects your personal career growth and success at the same time. Character and reputation are two key words with two separate goals that both need your consistent attention.
A quote that I had in my office for over 20 years was a daily reminder that both are part of the success of each other. World famous basketball coach John Wooden said it best, “I believe you should be more concerned with your character rather than your reputation, because your character is what you really are. Your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
As we build our organizations, we are all given opportunities hourly to build our character and in turn, our reputation.
The leadership you reveal with your staff, board members, community leaders, and your members all include the ingredients of your character and its reputation.
Building one’s character is a lifetime adventure. The daily challenges, opportunities, crisis, and problem solving issues are all brought to you because you are a leader and decision maker. All are spokes in the wheel that give you the chance to build your character. How we react to each one may be observed by others without our knowledge or awareness. How they perceive your actions, decisions, victories, and failures are all a piece of the puzzle that others observe and judge you by as they evaluate your reputation.
How often do you ask for advice from your peers for their input, opinion, wisdom, and gut feeling when a challenge is in front of you? This is a great undernourished advantage that will broaden your view of the issue you are dealing with. Building one’s character has many ingredients, and each of us has our own recipe.
We often do not consider the skill of delegation as part of our character building process, but it plays a huge part in not only your growth, but those we delegate to are also receiving an opportunity of character building.
Try this quick revealing exercise. List the top three assets of your character on a piece of paper, and next to each, write where you learned or achieved this asset.
You might be surprised with your answers. All three are reflections of your reputation.
An organization’s reputation can last for decades without change.
An organization can be crystal clear, prestigious, and appear bullet proof, and yet one seemingly small issue or crisis can shift the reputation in a blink of the eye.
The point I want to make is that character and reputation are a team, and you are the coach. Not only is your character being judged, but the character of your staff, board members, community leaders, and members are also being judged.
This is to your advantage. As you define and lead by example, others will see, hear, and feel your leadership through your character. When you next look into a mirror, you stand there with your character; those looking over your shoulder only see the reflection of your reputation.