What is a “Reputational Athlete”?


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A ‘Reputational Athlete’ is a manager or staff member into whom reputation
protection behavior has been so strongly ingrained that it becomes an automatic reflex.

These are staff members who routinely would ask the following question in meetings and decision making situations – “If we do this, will it harm our Reputation”?

So, how do we make staff members become reputational athletes. This is when the old adage came up in my mind – Repetition is the Mother of Skill.

The Cycle of Learning is perhaps the greatest model in guiding these efforts and is explained in a document called Reputation Risk Management & the Four Stages of Learning (The Conscious Competence Learning Model)

Download it here

This model describes the 4 stages of learning and how an employee is moved from one step to the other. I have adapted it to our field and I think you will find it to be valuable reading.

I have also taken it one step further to include the suggested 5th Step in learning – the so-called “Danger of Complacency” stage. This is the stage where an athlete continues to practise the skill which has become automatic and second
nature, but, over time, allows bad habits to form.

For example, a professional speaker, believing him or herself to be an expert, fails to prepare adequately for a keynote  presentation and drops a clanger.

These are the dangers of thinking you can do something so easily, you become
complacent.

Complacency can also cause problems if the person doesn’t keep up-
to-date with the skill or profession.

As techniques and approaches move forward, the athlete remains behind using
set methods which have perhaps become stale, out-dated or less relevant to
today. This is personified for me when I first read the brilliant book – Core Performance by Mark Verstegen, in which he puts forward training methods for maximum results in a minimum time period.

It is vital for an athlete to assess and reassess personal competence (Example – So-called personal best in running)(perhaps against a new standard. This new standard could be new thinking on reputation, ethics, governance or corporate responsibility) and step back to the conscious competence stage until mastery is attained once again.

Immersing yourself in Social Media & Online Reputation Management techniques is an example of this type of activity. For instance, I have just enrolled in the New Media University. Yep, I started reading Brian Solis’ book – ENGAGE: The Complete Guide for BRANDS and BUSINESSES to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web.

So, how fit are you as a Reputational Athlete?

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