Product and company are important, but people are most important. Many organizations seem to lose perspective around this concept. Instead, they get caught up in what I call a “money grab,” where they see people as nothing more than commodities, or a means to an end. These same companies tend to have reputation issues. If we were to suggest to these same companies that they need to look within, they would likely tell us to bug off. What they are missing is that reputation is where perception meets reality. Companies that enjoy a great reputation put their people first. They have character. The late great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while reputation is merely what others think you are.” A business’s reputation does matter, and whether it is good or bad, is a reflection of the character of the individuals who chose to be a part of it.
A business’s leadership sets the pace for its reputation. Having a good reputation takes constant attention and commitment. Because, as Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” We’ve seen many a company who starts out as the next big thing, only to become yesterday’s news before you know it. Why does this happen? There is a litany of reasons, but in most cases, success or failure starts at the top. Leaders within these sorts of “flash in the pan” type companies begin to read their own headlines, get greedy, cut corners, and see people as numbers or commodities. They forget where they came from. Their egos get in the way of doing the right thing by those they represent. They don’t adhere to a “Servant Leadership” mentality, or if they did, they lost it when times became plentiful.
We are hyperaware of our reputation at Globalstar, which is one of the many reasons we have been in the Infor ERP consulting business for over 20 years. We understand that talented individuals have a choice in where they work. Therefore, we do everything possible to have a clear vision of who we are and where we are headed. We also err toward inspiring team members to where they can self-motivate. We are honest, ethical, and have great transparency in everything we do. We haven’t stuck around for over 20 years by doing the wrong thing by our team members, clients, or partners. Every decision we make as an organization involves keeping our reputation sound. An organization needs to become the attributes espoused by its leadership. If you are a leader within your organization, it is up to you to set an example for others to follow. Make your reputation a high priority and start by putting your people first!