A highly regarded business colleague and friend, Sheelagh Caygill, recently wrote an article about how actively sharing political views can help shape your reputation and it started me pondering about something I’ve been mindful of, and fascinated by, for many years.
What impact do those close to you have on your personal reputation? Do they add to your mana ‘capital’ or do they continually drain your personal reputation bank?
Look around at those that impact most significantly on your life : your company or organisation,, colleagues, partner, family, friends. Have you ever considered whether any have a detrimental or additive value to your own reputation and how the world sees you? And does it matter?
Recently a high profile court case played out in the media when actor Felicity Huffman was found guilty of a crime. Her equally high profile actor husband, William H Macy kept a deliberately low profile during the case, no doubt for justified fear of being damned by association. It was made clear he had no involvement in the actions of his wife and it was an obvious and strategic public relations move that he be distanced from it. During sentencing, he moved back into the picture as supportive husband - once it was clear he had no cognisance of the wrong doing. It can be assumed that the couple would have much to lose if both had been cast as villains in this playbook, as Macy is a regular movie favourite with a considerable $ value.
So, although most of us may not have the multi million $ price tag, we do have something hugely valuable to us all - our greatest asset - our reputation. Some will say that friendships etc are far more valuable than the court of public opinion - however small that might be for each of us. Others may be more tuned in to seeing the behaviour of others affecting their hard won good standing.
So where would you draw the line? What behaviour or activity would have to be demonstrated for you to take action to preserve what you have likely worked most of your lifetime to gain?
It’s an interesting question and one that each of us will have many and various answers to.
But it is worth considering.
What would your company or organisation have to do to make you reconsider working with them because you didn’t feel comfortable that their reputation reflected yours?
How many friendships would you need to lose before you reconsidered that your partner or family were perhaps the reason people were keeping a wide berth?
Some relationships are not so easy to slash and burn.
So, in a quiet moment do a little audit of your own.
Who adds to your personal balance sheet and who negatively impacts it?
Only you can decide whether the cost is worth it.
I've been fortunate to have been interviewed quite a few times by Sheelagh Caygill of global agency, Communicate Influence.
Here's a link to my main interview on reputation management.
And you can find other interviews on her really valuable and insightful site, including one about the writing of Stand Out and Step Up. Check it out !
Apologies are double edged swords.
Do it with truth and good heart and you may be forgiven or at least appreciated. Do it cynically or through a third party and see the wrath of a nation ( in this case) rise quicker than your gold medal winning mountain bike race win.
Yesterday, Simon Gaze won gold for himself and New Zealand. A proud moment for many. But amongst his celebrations, he managed to diss his compatriot and second placed, Anton Cooper and accuse him of bad sportsmanship. I'm not going into that part. What interested me was the statement that was made within hours by Gaze , apologising for his comments.
Now we will never know who engineered the statement and who crafted it but it sure didn't feel like Gaze. Having been involved in high profile sports campaigns for many years, I'm fully aware that trusted media representatives as well as the Chef de Mission are always ready with their damage limitation statements should the need arise ( and it inevitably always does). It is a fine line ( and a master skill) to write an authentic statement on behalf of someone and balance the needs of the national body and all the stakeholders that represents, including a nation of sports lovers who don't like ungracious winners ( or losers for that matter).
This one was not a great example. The statement was so slick and so polished and "appropriate" that it conveyed little sincerity but instead showed a massive lack in authenticity and therefore trust. If Gaze did write it - he should have been given assistance. I'm betting he didn't.
The authors of the statement didn't do Gaze any favours. It is a tough job but it's critical to get it right. Many reputations depend on it.
Today I joined over 200 people to listen to the (current) Prime Minister of New Zealand who has 3 days before the country decides whether they like what he and his Government have been doing or whether they want fresh blood.
It made me think about trust.
I found myself - as I usually am- more drawn to how he was presenting the information and who he was aiming to connect with rather than the carefully crafted content and also how he was projecting his authenticity. He did well. My immediate take is that he is a genuine man who has been thrust into a public arena that bows down to and celebrates the sound bite and snapchat. He may not be as polished as his predecessor but neither is he a show pony.
He instils trust. That's something that is not learned in media. training. He is authentic and I for one value that. Whether that's a view shared by the country in 3 days time, only time will tell.