What saves our reputation when business goes south?

Reading through many articles about companies losing their profits or CEOs faced with tough decisions to make, a bell in my head rang. How do they rise above the water again? Is it brand identity or image that saves the day? That’s when I realized, reputation is the one which will make or break the company passing through a rough patch. But when you think of reputation what is the definition going through your head? I asked myself this question today. And the answer came quite easily. Reputation represents the overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general (definition also given by Merriam-Webster dictionary). In other words, reputation is the perception of the character.

Abraham Lincoln wrote that “character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Character reflects what a person is; reputation is how he seems. It is therefore perception that can be interpreted or manipulated in different ways. Knowing this we can easily state that our reputation can be saved by our character. Yes, leaders need to think about their reputation and try to manage it wisely. However, character matters more. Character is what makes them successful and it is the propeller of their businesses. Character is not only seen as interior beliefs or values, but the projection of them into actions. Integrity and character walk hand in hand in my opinion and they need to be acted upon in order to build or save reputations.

“Leaders need to act on character”, says John Baldoni in his article.  And Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase confirms in the Journal. : “The big lesson I learned: Don’t get complacent despite a successful track record. No one or no unit gets a free pass.”

So how can we make sure that our reputation and our company’s won’t be completely ruined during a tough period? We need to focus on our character and act upon it in connection to the energy of our business. Errors are human and as long as we keep our “tree” well connected to our inner self, our “shadow” will not be irremediably damaged.

by Denise Iordache, Strategic communication associate at Akasha Ventures