Reputation is the cornerstone of power: once it slips, you are vulnerable and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation sacred.
Your character is precious, just as your company’s reputation is its most valuable intangible asset. Unfortunately, reputations are easily besmirched and challenging to rehabilitate in the digital age. Protect your personal and corporate brands by always doing what you should rather than what you could do.
This is one of the laws in the absolutely brilliant book, The 48 Laws of Power; Robert Greene writes,
The dominant story is a reputation that inflates and eventually obscures other aspects of a personality. When an individual is a victim, everything is related and interpreted according to it. The dominant story can become denigration, creating scapegoats within a community that gives itself a good conscience at little cost.
The recommendation? Think about how this dominant story is serving you. How can you rewrite this story, and how can you make sure it is seen, known, and publicly?
1. Never criticise the decisions or directions of senior management in front of your employees. You may feel like you are making friends, but this is not the goal. Respect and reputation in organisational life are reputation and respect.
2. Don’t communicate if you don’t have the time to do it well. You take care of your communications but are only partially in control of your schedule. Before cutting off vital communication, ensure your shortcuts will not harm your reputation. It is better to delay this discussion to a more convenient time.
4. Silence is power. According to Greene, silence is so powerful and ultimately comes down to staying in control. For example, we tend to let ourselves slip or come out with outlandish things when we speak for too long. On the other hand, keeping things brief can make our views seem more profound (and reduces the likelihood of us saying something nonsensical.
5. Know when to fade into the shadows. Come from a viewpoint on how to get it right versus being right. Every time you do good for someone, you do good for your reputation.
Your reputation goes ahead of you before you get to where you are going. When companies or jobs need recommendations, your reputation will be the one to bring you the job and make way for you. When people try to attack you or say bad things about you, your reputation will make them beat a retreat. ‘You can share your goods, even your lives, but sharing reputation is hard to come by’.