7 Habits of People With Great Reputations

Status doesn’t happen overnight or by chance.

7 Habits of People With Great Reputations
[Photo: Flickr user Jason Rogers]

Editor’s Note: This article is one of the top 10 habits to adopt to be better at your job in 2016. See the full list here.


From the sought-after industry leader to the person who’s unanimously approved for the promotion, people with great reputations seem to have an easier time at success. But their status doesn’t happen overnight or by chance.

“Building a great reputation is like building a house; it takes more than one brick,” says Grace Killelea, CEO and founder of the women’s leadership program Half the Sky and author of The Confidence Effect: Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success. “It’s more than just what you do; it’s how you do it. And it has a direct impact on your career and opportunities.”

Reputation is the echo you leave in the room; it’s what people say about you when you’re not there. If you’re unsure of yours, Killelea says it’s imperative to find out.

“Go to friends and peers and say, ‘I’m working hard to make sure my reputation aligns with my goals. Would you be open to giving feedback? How am I doing? Am I showing up in a way that’s positive? And what do you think is important to change?’” she says. “But the rule is that if you ask people for feedback, you can’t dismiss it.”

Building and strengthening your reputation should be the driving force behind your actions and choices. Here are seven habits of people who do it well:


1. They Get Things Done

You build a great reputation by doing what you say you’re going to do. People like people who get things done, says Killelea.

“Align your words and your actions,” she says. “You can have a reputation of being friendly or nice, but if you don’t get it over the finish line, your reputation will suffer.”

2. They Take Ownership Of Mistakes

People with great reputations acknowledge errors, make amends, and change their behavior if needed.

“People only give you so much credit for an apology,” says Killelea. “Your behavior has to change long term. Don’t say sorry, behave well for three months, and then go back to what you were doing. Once you say you’re going to fix something, you don’t get a second bite of the apple.”

3. They Are Generous

When you offer your time and knowledge, you build a great reputation. People who do this well support their teams, provide resources, and remove obstacles, says Killelea.


“I’ve seen executives who end up struggling because they got results from their employees through intimidation, threats, harassment, and fear,” she says. “They may be well known for getting things done, but those leaders who beat up and demoralize their staff don’t tend to have long careers.”

4. They Listen To Other Points Of View

People with the best reputations are inclusive. They open their minds to new ideas and different people, and as a result are available to new opportunities.

“Having an inclusive diverse group of people working together allows you to better service your clients,” says Killelea. “Diversity increases problem solving ability and creativity.”

5. They’re Decisive

If you constantly vacillate, you’re hurting your reputation. People who have built strong reputations have honed their ability to make decisions.

“If you ruminate, you hesitate,” says Killelea. “Speak up and make decisions. People like action–it’s the ‘what’ and ‘how’ combined.”


6. They Don’t Sacrifice Principles

It’s important to have courage, conviction, and compassion, says Killelea, and all three contribute to your reputation.

“The person who can tell the truth, who has the courage of conviction that this is the right thing to do, and has compassion for the team and the company will stand out,” she says. “Know what you stand for and be true to your principles.”

7. They’re Resilient

Build a good reputation by bouncing back and regrouping when challenges happen, says Killelea. Instead of finding blame or being vindictive, do an internal audit and determine where you came up short.

“Resilience is about overcoming adversity and winning,” she says. “Perhaps more important, it’s also about adapting to avoid future challenges in the first place.”