Burn Prate

I was talking to someone last night about reputational capital. Reputational capital represents the level of trust or credence a person possesses. It’s a common feature in life – the football manager who is trusted because they have won a cup previously, a politician who has solved a crisis, a detective who has cracked a case all possess reputational capital which they spend buying our trust, our agreement, our complicity.

Reputational capital is hard to earn and easy to dissipate. Those of us who are service providers will know all too well the way in which years of exemplary service count for little if email goes down for 10 minutes.

Reputational capital is part of being a leader, we will buy charisma, vision and energy for a while but at the end we look for delivery, real or spun. There are plenty whose reputational capital has been built on the labours of others and the sheer good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. Such people try desperately to eke out their reputational capital just long enough to get away with it.

Change programmes can burn through reputational capital at a ferocious rate. We all hate change, even if we claim to love it we usually just mean that we don’t mind change when it happens to others or when it is pleasant and we are in control.

Incremental change works both because of the frog boiling effect but also because it keeps the reputational capital pot topped up.

I find myself wondering can I make sure that I do at least one thing each day which adds to my reputational capital? And ensure that I promote it. After all, reputational capital only works if people know your reputation. Which I suppose works both ways …

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