Build your personal reputation. A solid no-holes reputation. At all cost.
I’m still working on mine, but here’s what I’ve learnt:
Your personal reputation is your personal brand. Build it, single-mindedly. It helps if the main ingredients making up your personal brand – character, integrity, honesty, kindness, fairness – are good to start with. If you’re lacking something here, you better change your ways before people catch on. Remember the old adage “Once a thief, always a thief?” It holds good even today.
Value-add to make your personal reputation stronger. Be nice to people. Smile. Be polite. Be kind. Be grateful when someone helps you. Learn to work with people, as you can’t possibly achieve everything on your own – including building your personal reputation. Pay attention to those around you and their needs. Try to understand their sentiments and feelings while following your own goals. I learnt this much too late in life and suffered for it.
Avoid pitfalls that may crash your personal reputation along the way. Be careful of what you do or say. Your opinions are important. But not worth fighting over, if it upsets everyone around you. Never show your temper – even if you’ve had a bad day. Don’t yell – even when you have cause to be angry. No matter what your point is, if you yell, people will perceive you to be in the wrong.
Your personal reputation has a tendency to get ahead of you. It can travel before you like an emissary and reach your destination much before you do. More so in these days of the internet and social media. As a result, people will form opinions of you much before you get a chance to meet them. There’s good reason to carefully build your personal reputation as you would build your career.
Your personal reputation has a tendency to follow you around. Like a shadow. It doesn’t end with your next promotion, a transfer, a new job, or relocating to another place. It stays with you till the end of your career. Even beyond, after you’re dead and gone. Nurture your reputation at all times. Particularly when you’re headed to the top. That’s when all eyes are on you.
If you don’t watch what you do or say, others will anyway. On most occasions, they’ll be quick to judge you. Some will become your allies and sponsors. Others will ruin your plans. It helps to keep your personal views out of your decisions at work; your personal life away from your work life.
Your personal problems are yours – don’t bring them to work. If you’re in a bad marriage, don’t discuss it with anyone in the office. Don’t bring different girlfriends or boyfriends to office parties. Date them in your own time. You may be the envy of a few, but you’ll be seen as unfaithful – as a ‘player’ – and not to be trusted.