Your leadership reputation is how others perceive you as a leader. It’s important as it precedes you. It influences how others approach working with you, way before they even meet you. Your reputation can therefore either be your greatest asset or your biggest liability.
We’d like to think that we have a strong reputation as a leader. After all, we don’t intentionally set out to create a bad rep. But don’t make the mistake of confusing your personal brand with your leadership reputation. One is about intent. The other is about your real leadership impact.
Your personal brand is what you want to be known for. That’s the leadership identity you’re working to establish. Your leadership reputation however, is what you’re actually known for. Despite your best intentions, your intent doesn’t always translate well.
Let’s say that Michelle has a reputation for being contentious and argumentative. Nicole, on the other hand, is known to be open and willing to listen. Which reputation do you think will bias others to come ready for a fight to defend their stand? I’m willing to bet that Nicole will have an easier time resolving differences as others will be more relaxed and open to exploring options with her.
As you may not always know the actual effect of your words and actions, how you’re regarded as a leader may not be what you think.
How would your direct reports or colleagues describe you? Are you seen as someone who’s tough but fair? Or are you known for being likeable but lacking the courage to make hard calls? It’s essential that you’re aware of how you’re regarded as a leader as it has a huge impact on your influence and effectiveness.
Your personal brand is built over time. But you cannot develop a strong and consistent personal brand until you first gather some intel on how others currently perceive your leadership. Only then can you begin to adjust your behaviours to course correct your reputation to align with your desired personal brand.
Do you know your current leadership reputation? If you don’t, perhaps it’s a good time to find out.