Good Reputation: A Recipe for Building Better Society

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Reputation comprises own actions and what people say about you. Whether we believe it or not, our reputation will always follow us everywhere we go. People will always judge us by our reputation. In the end, the collective reputation of people has both direct and indirect effect on the development of their community and the nation. Collective reputation will make a society a force to reckon with at both the national and international level.

Today, there is an upsurge and strong motivation towards building better societies for all in Africa.  One of the key driving forces in building better societies for the 1.2 billion people living in Africa is for them to understand and appreciate the importance of good reputation and its implications to development. Proverbs 22: 1 (from the Good News translation of the Bible) says that “if you have to choose between a good reputation and great wealth, choose a good reputation”. Yet as Africans adjust to the new realities of development, the actions of most of her citizenry remains a fiasco.

When people realize that good reputation is very important and strongly linked to development of a better society for all, they will make conscious effort not to engage in acts that tarnish their persona. This article sheds light on two important points. First is to show how good reputation builds a better society. Second is to provide some characteristics of a person with good reputation. Good reputation is relevant in building a better society because of four reasons including trust, influence, legacy and partnership.

First, people with good reputation have the trust of other people and vice versa. In scholarly literature, there is massive consensus showing that there is a positive relationship between social trust and development. This is because, when subordinates trust their leaders, they are willing to sacrifice not only their physical capital but also their human, financial and other forms of capital to see greater success.  

Second, good reputation exerts influence on others. People with good reputation and care about it drive people along their path because of the power they possess. Through good reputation, one can motivate and encourage the vulnerable in order for the society to win. Leaders with good reputation do not just command and control their followers, but enable them to rise and deal with complex societal problems for the benefit of all.

Third, people with good reputation leave behind a great legacy for others to follow. Such legacies provide opportunity for new leaders to learn from and champion a worthy course. Great legacies from leaders transcend beyond national borders. In most cases, it sets the reputation for the country and its nationals for the outside world.

Fourth, good reputation brings about partnership. It is common practice to see that economic actors- individuals, companies and countries would want to collaborate with nations of good reputation. A leader with good reputation may attract enormous partnership with investors from the domestic and global stage. These investments create jobs and improve the economic indicators of the country. 

For one to build a good reputation some characteristics such as honesty, excellence, keeping your word and self-defense should be observed.

First, people with good reputation act with honesty and integrity. This is one of the major foundation of good reputation. Acts such as greediness, lying, cheating and deceptiveness showcase lack of dishonesty. Being honest- truthful to yourself and others is a trait of a person considered to have good reputation.

Second, another trait of a person with good reputation is excellence. People who are mindful of their reputation strive for excellence in whatever they do. They aim at doing the right thing and doing it well in order to be relevant.

Third, keeping your word is one of the attributes of persons with good reputation. Such people often do what they say they will do and avoid making promises they cannot keep.

Fourth, defending yourself is another trait of people with good reputation. Given that reputation includes what people say or think about you, there is the tendency that some people might want to peddle untruth about you. Although, it is often said that one needs not pay attention to what people say. I do not think it is necessarily so, particularly when they are spreading falsehood. People who care about their reputation stand to defend themselves when falsehood are spread about them. Taking good steps and using the appropriate medium to restore your reputation prevent you from further reputational damage.

In conclusion, reputational lovers will hardly engage in dubious and illegal contracts that have only individual’s interest. Let us all make our reputation invaluable in order to make our societies a better place for all. We should challenge ourselves as Africans to strive for individual good reputation. We should vote leaders who have good reputation and care about it. There is no doubt that leaders who are mindful of their reputation than wealth in various facets will eschew corruption and make the continent a great place for its citizens. Finally, we should collaborate to build a collective reputation for the collective good of our society.

This article was written by Evans Appiah Kissi, director of research at CEBSAR-AFRICA.


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