Chris Komisarjevsky on A Reputation Question: Share power with the team or hoard it?

Photo of Chris KomisarjevskyThe following is a guest post by Chris Komisarjevsky, author of The Power of Reputation: Strengthen the Asset That Will Make of Break Your Career, about teamwork, power, and reputation.

Simply put, reputation – whatever our chosen field – is an asset that makes for strong careers and, as some have learned the hard way, can break them.

When built on a foundation of character, communication, and trust, your reputation brings you power and authority.  If you use that power well, success follows.  But, if you misuse that power or fail to share it and give credit to those who work with you, you are setting off in a direction that is sure to damage your career.

In every profession, we all know that success takes teamwork.  Along the way, there are others who work with you.

Notice that I said “with you” … not “for you.”  That is a critical distinction.  So, as you climb that ladder of success, ask yourself which way of thinking serves you best: sharing the authority and glory with your team … or keeping it for yourself?

No doubt, sharing is best.  The success you and your team achieve accrues to everyone, not just yourself.

But for some, sharing power and authority is tough to do.  There are those who choose to keep all the power and all the glory for themselves.  For them, winning a big client means keeping the credit.  For others, landing a new customer is followed by re-told stories in a meeting or over a drink about the important role they played.  And for yet others, expanding the donor base was only possible because of them.  Or growing the business was due to their work and only their work.

We don’t like it when we hear that kind of attitude from others.  And we shouldn’t do that to those who work with us.

A strong reputation, leading to career success over time, means adherence to a set of values, one of which is teamwork.  As every successful manager will tell you, no one can reach their potential without the help of others.  None of us lives in a vacuum and none of us has enough arms, legs, and brains to do the job alone.  Even Robinson Crusoe needed the help of Friday.

Caring and sharing are key elements of teamwork.  In fact, as a manager, you need to establish a circle of caring so that those who work with you know how important they are to success, individually and as part of the team.

Above all, it is a sign of respect.

Here are seven tips on successful caring and sharing from my book, The Power of Reputation ( ):

  1. Pick the people you work with well – focus on those whom you trust explicitly.
  2. Vest them with the raw facts – be candid and make sure they are aware of all the potential problems, the risks, and the challenges.
  3. Don’t oversell their roles or the opportunities – makes sure they understand how difficult the challenges are.
  4. Let them talk – use any discussions with them as a means of engagement in looking for solutions.  Keep every discussion a dialog.
  5. Ask them if they need help – then help them get the resources they need.
  6. Check in to see how they are doing – don’t check on them but check in with them.
  7. Share the victory and the failures – if you chose your team well, then be confident … they can handle the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The bottom line is this: caring and sharing are critical to your reputation and, ultimately, to your career success.  Others will want to work with you.  They will be energized by how you value the role they play and the importance of what they do.  In turn, you will be able to accomplish more.  And the enterprise will grow and prosper.

In life – as in work – you get what you give.  If you share power and authority, you get more in return.  And if you give credit to others for work well done, you are on the road to a successful career.

Jacket image, The Power of ReputationChris Komisarjevsky retired as worldwide president and chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, the leading global public relations firm, in 2005. He is an accomplished public relations professional and counseling firm chief executive with worldwide client consulting and agency leadership experience. He has been the Harold Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations at Boston University.  Komisarjevsky is a recognized speaker on reputation, communication, and business at business and professional meetings as well as Switzerland’s International Institute for Management Development, Spain’s Instituto de Empresa, and Universities throughout  the U.S.  He blogs at Reputation and Strategies.

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