This article is part of The Ascender, the Highrise platform for articles and resources.

Reputation vs. Character: Difference & Importance in Leadership

The Highrise Team
October 22, 2022
Five executives posing for the camera symbolizing character and reputation
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We all hope to reflect on our lives in the future and be proud of the legacy we have left behind. This legacy and influence could be felt in your workplace, how you led others, how you established connections, developed bonds in society, did the right thing with your kids and friends, or all of the above.

You want people to revere you for your reputation, respect your character, and say to themselves, "Now that was a leader," when they think of you. But in terms of your presence in leadership, which one is more crucial?

Think about the overall quality of your general character and reputation. Does your reputation outweigh your character in terms of reach and scope? Or can people perceive you as a leader solely based on your character? 

To find the answer to these hard-hitting questions, we will compare reputation vs. character and what makes moral qualities distinctive in terms of honesty, control, reputation, truth, and the world. 

What Are Character and Reputation When it Comes to Leadership?

Your reputation is the overall impression or assessment of your character made by other people. This reputation management is the perception of your importance and value, and it speaks volumes about the abilities, leadership style, and overall character you possess. 

However, this could be inconsistent with who you are since it is perceived and does not necessarily define you personally. 

We can begin our definition of character as a person's mental and moral qualities. This definition also applies to leadership, though it would be more accurate to describe it as something that develops credibility and trust. When it comes to leadership, this helps a person build trust so that people can either rely on you or avoid you.

The Meaning of Reputations

In terms of leadership, reputation and character go hand in hand. Most of the time, a reputation requires a character to build itself. Your character can carry you quite a distance, but it might not have much of an impact as a reputation could. You want your character to demonstrate your leadership and focus, and you want these abilities known through your reputation.

A person cannot lead others simply because they have good mental and moral qualities. Some people might believe they could walk all over you. 

On the other hand, a great reputation would encourage people to pay attention to your words.

Difference Between Reputation and Character

By now, you've probably noticed that reputation and character have many differences. Even though they complement one another, they stand out from each other and have their unique advantages. Imagine the moral qualities distinctive to both and the example it creates for society. 

One's reputation may not always reflect their true self, but one’s character always does. The foundation of reputation is the first thing others perceive when they talk to you. 

Character is who you are on the inside, built through personal effort and belief. 

A person must spend years developing their character as they go through different experiences to discover who they are as a person. These encounters cultivate their unique qualities, which distinguish them from others. However, reputation can be quickly built and refers to the public's opinion of a person.

Five executives talking to each other symbolizing character and reputation

Importance of Reputation and Character in Leadership 

Reputation and character are both fundamentals of leadership. Without good morals or knowledge of your leadership abilities, it is unlikely that anyone would want to follow you.

Having a Good Character

Character is a crucial component of leadership. Your character can either be pessimistic or optimistic, trustworthy or unreliable, giving or selfish. A person of good character can foster trust, but people won't follow you without trust. A leader cannot succeed without followers.

Good character shows you have values, discipline, and many other things that show you are a leader. But a bad character shows that you lack these essential qualities of a leader. Your character is set in stone, unlike your reputation.

Having a Good Reputation

Some people believe your reputation is a significant asset. It is simpler to advance your career goals and gain the respect of your peers and society when you have a good reputation; this shows that you have the qualities of a leader.

But if you have a weak reputation, people will avoid you out of fear that you'll drag them down with you. Just as having a bad reputation could ruin your actual character, having a bad character could ruin your reputation.

There are many benefits to having a good character and reputation. With both, you can increase your opportunities, forge meaningful connections with peers, and win over devoted clients. It will be extremely difficult to lead others without either of these components of leadership.

How To Develop Reputation and Character

As mentioned earlier, the foundation of your character stems from experience. You are developing your character from birth to life as a young adult. 

Developing Character

As mentioned previously, experience is necessary for character development, meaning you need to venture outside more, push yourself to new limits, and take risks. You won't advance in life by doing the same thing repeatedly, but you absolutely will by being a well-rounded individual with different experiences.

Being able to empathize is a crucial aspect of leadership. Try to comfort a friend, no matter how uncomfortable it may be; this will show how much you care and can better other people.

Recognize your shortcomings and work to improve upon them. True leaders aren’t perfect, but they are mature enough to understand their imperfections. Not only will pointing them out and learning how to improve yourself help you in the long run, but it will also assist you in helping others.

Also, be sure to be accountable for mistakes and remain humble. Although having faith in your abilities is always admirable, no one wants to follow someone arrogant. But taking accountability shows self-awareness and that you have a growth mindset.

Developing Your Reputation

Establishing and upholding values is one of the most crucial things you can do to build your reputation. Standing on your morals demonstrates to others your self-assurance and makes them want to trust you.

Another crucial component of reputation-building is consistency. Proven leaders have demonstrated their leadership qualities through their actions and consistency. Setting up a schedule and sticking to it despite all obstacles will demonstrate your leadership skills and persistence. This further demonstrates your dependability.

Additionally, optimism is contagious; it motivates others and ensures you can successfully guide others to success. A team that lacks inspiration and is pessimistic will only make those negative thoughts come true. Instead, establish a reputation for consistently being awesome, and others will be motivated by your upbeat outlook on life.

Lastly, go above and beyond others’ expectations. There is no way anyone could be dissatisfied when you put your all into your work. This, along with consistency, will demonstrate your dependability and encourage others to cooperate with you, which is incredibly important.

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In Conclusion

At the end of the day, reputation matters for a person, but character makes this possible. Of course, a false depiction of your character could ultimately become your reputation. However, with the knowledge above, you can improve your reputation and character, thus following a path to success.

Even though these two are different, it shouldn't come down to "character vs. reputation." You don't want to risk having one without the other since they complement each other. Both traits are essential to developing oneself as a leader, which will help you in your business life, thus displaying that you have the inclusive leadership skills to ensure a company grows smoothly.

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