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ATD Blog

3 Proactive Strategies to Put You in Control of Your Reputation

Monday, September 24, 2018

Cindy seemed to be on the fast track and was interviewing for a position that would be the next step up in her career. She was so excited about this role: She could be leading an important initiative for the company. As leaders were discussing who they would interview, there were mixed perceptions about Cindy. One leader had worked with her on a couple of projects and spoke favorably of the quality of her work. Another leader had not worked with her, but noted that a trusted colleague had commented that she did not seem to have the presence of a leader. A third leader had no experience or information about her and, therefore, had nothing to contribute. Compared to the perceptions of other candidates, the unfavorable and lacking perceptions pushed Cindy out of the running. This situation is not unusual.

What are the perceptions about you? How do you significantly increase the likelihood that you will be selected?

Perception is reality, whether that perception is right or wrong. Other people have a perception of you. At work, that perception, or what I call reputation, could make or break your career. A reputation that boosts your career does not happen by chance; it takes intentional focus and effort.

Imagine you were making a decision on who to promote. I want you to think of two people at work, one you would consider promoting, one you would not consider promoting. What are the reasons you would promote or not promote either? What is your perception of them? What kind of reputations do they have?

Are you aware of what the conversations entail when your name comes up? And, how do you influence those perceptions?


You need to be aware of the three brand traits that have the greatest effect on your reputation and actively manage these areas. The first brand trait is “Standing Out From the Crowd.” This means you must have a strong track record in your execution and in how you accomplish your work.

In my leader interviews for the FuelForward book, Melanie Shook helps us to understand this point. She shared the inside scoop on what leaders look for when they make talent decisions and said it falls into two primary areas: One is, “What are your core capabilities? What can you do?" This is all about your results and execution. The second area is how you go about getting the results. Do you leave dead bodies along the way, or do you make things better as you get results?


The second key brand trait is to be “Well Known.” The key here is to have a brand management plan that includes your brand development strategy and your brand marketing strategy. What do you want people to think of when someone mentions your name?

You have to influence that by telling your own story. Even when you’re having casual conversations, engage others in discussing the interesting work you all are doing, what you’re learning, and some of the outcomes. Make sure you have regular update meetings with your boss to share what you’re working on and the progress you’re making. Don’t assume your boss already knows. Your boss can be your biggest cheerleader or toughest adversary.

The third key brand trait is having “Perceived Runway.” Do leaders believe you have a promising future of continuing to make an impact on the business? Having perceived runway is essential for getting on the "high potential" list, or even getting a chance to compete for most potential career opportunities. Putting the first two brand traits into practice will help you earn perceived runway.

You have more control over your reputation than you think. It’s important to remember you have to build a foundation for your reputation by delivering consistent over-the-top execution (standing out from the crowd) and by actively sharing your value (well known). This will help you establish the type of reputation (perceived runway) you need to advance in your career.

About the Author

Vivian Blade, MBA, MBB, PMP, is a recognized leadership expert and thought leader. Following a successful 20-year corporate career with Fortune 100 companies Humana and GE, Vivian launched her current leadership consulting practice, applying her extensive business, finance, and leadership experience to coach and develop aspiring and established leaders in building high-performance, high-quality, and high-service level organizations. She also works in academia as adjunct faculty for the University of Louisville College of Business. Vivian is the author of two books, FuelForward: Discover Proven Practices to Fuel Your Career Forward, which reveals the unwritten rules to career success, and Resilience Ready: The Leader’s Guide to Thriving Through Unrelenting Crises. She is a contributor to two books published by the Association for Talent Development Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You'll Love, and Work the Problem: How Experts Tackle Workplace Challenges.

Vivian has served on the ATD International Conference & Exposition Program Advisory Committee, has presented conference workshops, has content featured in ATD webcasts, and a number of her articles are featured on She is also a member of the ATD Kentuckiana Chapter.

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valuable insight indeed
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