When you leave the meeting, what do people on your nonprofit team say about you? If you stood out in your employees' minds, and they were talking about you to their spouse at the end of the day, how would they describe your behaviour, impact on them or your personality?
What people say about you is your reputation, which impacts how they define your character. It also affects how loyal people are to you, how well they work for you and your relationship with them.
Reputation: The Outer Perception
Your reputation is how others perceive you based on your actions, behaviours, and the way you interact with them. It's essentially the image you project to the outside world. Your reputation can be influenced by your conduct, what you do and say, and how you treat others.
Character: Your Inner Compass
Character is who you truly are at your core. It's about your values, morals, and integrity. It's about what you believe in and how you behave when no one is watching. Character is your internal compass, guiding your decisions and actions.
Character and Reputation go hand-in-hand
Your reputation is influenced by your character. People, however, have a limited view of you, which can impact their interpretation of you or how they would define your reputation.
You may be honest in 90% of your life, but if your employee shared something with you in confidence and you told HR about it, and it got back to them, they may deem you untrustworthy based on that one situation.
Aligning Character and Reputation
Over time, your character shines through in your actions and interactions. The more contact you have with someone, the markers they will have for defining your reputation. The total of your ongoing conduct, actions and behaviours shapes someone's view of you.
How to lead with strong character
To become an authentic and trustworthy leader, it's vital to align your character with your actions. Here's how you can achieve this alignment:
When you live in alignment, your character is solid, and your reputation will reflect that. That alignment, walking your talk, and being who you say you are leads to more authentic and trustworthy leadership.
Your character is how people describe you. It's the traits that they would attribute to you. It's not what you hope they think of you. Your intentions and conduct are essential for developing your character, but ultimately, your character and reputation are how others describe you.
Take a moment to fill in the blank:
Perhaps these are some of the sentence endings you came up with:
Your character is the words others use to describe how they see you and your impact on them. Your conduct is the behaviours and actions others see that they use to assess your character. This includes how you act, interact and engage with others. It is what you say and do as much as what you don't say or don't do.
Your answers to these questions give insights into how others might describe your character. Each incident, response or action doesn't stand alone. People use a total of all your conduct to assess your character and describe your reputation. Your conduct is not a one-time event.
The Power of Perception
What we often forget, though, is that people's view of us takes into account the good times and bad. You can't be available, sometimes and other times not, without a valid explanation and clear boundaries. In one way, people will see you as "all over the place" and, in the other, as someone with consistent boundaries.
You can start to get a feel for your reputation and, thus, your character by considering some of the questions above. I've added more sentence starters below to get you thinking about others' reputations and how yours is defined. Try it with other people first, then switch it up to thinking about how people would finish these sentences if asked about you.
What did you learn? Did you have any ah ha's about your conduct and how it may or may not align with the character you wish to exemplify?
Your Leadership Journey
If you want to learn more about how to develop your character and lead with your strength of character, here are additional resources for you.
Rebuilding Trust: How to fix your reputationhttps://www.kathyarcher.com/blog/rebuilding-trust-how-to-fix-your-reputation
How and why you MUST lead with your strength of character
Learn to Develop Your Leader Character
If you want to learn more about developing your character and you are a member of The Training Library, check out the WEBINAR: Develop Your Strength of Character.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.