Age and workload have taken their toll. Now I run fewer miles, primarily for fitness. I still track workouts, but with far less formality: a wall calendar in the basement where I write my mileage or the occasional time trial result. Still, as I hung up the 2014 calendar last week, I felt that thrill I used to get when I cracked open a pristine training log. It’s a new year, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and train better, faster and harder than ever before.
And each year, I conveniently forget that my first entries in the new calendar depended on the quality of the work recorded in the old one.
From a public relations perspective, it seems a lot of organizations have that same mindset.
As Warren Buffett once said, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Toyota have learned that hard lesson in recent years.
The problem lies in the divorce of reputation from moral character—what you are when no one’s looking. Sadly, a lot of organizations think reputation is managed by heartfelt mission statements and teary-eyed soundbites. The reality is, a reputation can’t be “fixed”; it must be slowly and carefully built with honest effort rooted in the highest ethical standards. This is true for corporate reputation as well as internal reputation of leadership to employees.
If the new year is a time for resolutions, let’s hope more organizations will take the long view, operating with high moral character every day and at every level, allowing that to lay the groundwork for reputation.
It may require a lot of miles and a lot of sweat, but the run will be worth it.