Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: The Power to Get Things Done - Your Reputation

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Power to Get Things Done - Your Reputation

Do you have the power to get things done? Do you know how to leverage your knowledge, position and personality to lead and influence others?

What I hear from my HR contacts most frequently is that they are looking for coaching clients to have a bigger impact on the organization. From my clients, I hear that they want more success for themselves, but they don't want to change who they are. These clients are always smart, competent, dedicated people, so the coaching question is not what to change, but rather about how to leverage their strengths in new ways.

This articles focuses on reputation and impact it has on the ability to lead in organizations. It includes research about the power of reputation from two recent books - The Elements of Power by Terry R. Bacon and Power by Jeffery Pfeffer.

If you are frustrated in your career and want to learn how to have greater influence and power, or if you are seeing people in your organization limiting their impact through their behaviors, give me a call or drop me a line to talk about some quick changes that will have a lasting impact.


The Power of Reputation

Power within organizations can arise from formal authority and position, but true leadership power is defined relative to others. It is observable in people's willingness to follow, and more critically, their willingness to take risks for the leader.

Reputation is defined by Bacon as "an estimation of the overall quality of a person by others in the community to which the person belongs." Research shows that reputation has a significant impact on perceived power and being viewed as a role model.

Accomplishments matter, so does Reputation.


Reputation is one area where perception affects reality. If, prior to a presentation, sales meeting or interview, you are described as a rising star; what impact will that have on the expectations of the people you are to meet? In comparison, consider the impact if you are described in only "so-so" terms. Expectations set by a reputation will influence the nature of the interactions. In fact, Bacon's research indicates that people with strong reputations are more successful at building alliances, gaining consensus, negotiating, persuading through logical reasoning, building rapport, and using formal authority without causing distrust.

Reputations take time to develop; however they can be damaged quickly when norms of behavior are violated. To build or enhance a reputation, consider these steps.

  1. Become aware of what your reputation is. Ask trusted advisers what you are known for; listen to how you are introduced; consider what people might say about you when you aren't listening.
  2. Make early good impressions. The reality is that it is difficult to make a good impression each and every time. The key is to use your networking to engage in a lot of interactions and seek to present yourself in the best light each time.
  3. Develop a "brand you" - knowing and leveraging your strengths, understanding the distinctive role that you bring to a team or organization, and build and protect that brand.
  4. Deliver consistent high performance and demonstrate core values in your behavior.
  5. Join organizations and institutions whose reputation will enhance yours.
  6. Know the opinion leaders at all levels and enable them to sing your praises.
  7. Seek opportunities to speak, write and appear in media; avoiding blatant self-promotion.
  8. Develop strong self awareness and self-management; recognizing that leaders live in a glass bubble.

Take some time this week thinking about the reputation of the people you work with; what is the reputation based on? What impact does it how on their power and influence with different constituencies?

Identify a couple of colleagues whose reputation is not as good as it should be and think about what you might advise them to do differently?

Finally, outline the steps that you could take today to build your reputation and to leverage the power and influence associated with it.

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