Understanding the MOJO element of Reputation from Marshall Goldsmith

This article is the fourth in the series. While the first article dealt with the concept of MOJO in some detail, the second article focused on identity as an element of MOJO, while the third had a focus on Achievement as an element of MOJO. In this article, we will deal with the MOJO element of Reputation, as explained by Marshall Goldsmith, in some detail.


In this article, we will deal with the MOJO element called Reputation. Once again, we will take some quotes from the book MOJO written by Marshall Goldsmith and then anchor the same in the context of our day-to-day lives. According to the author, MOJO "is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside" (page 18)

It is relevant to draw attention to the concept of identity, the first element of MOJO from an earlier article in this series, which provided an understanding of identity as an element of mojo from. It is also relevant to draw attention to the second element of MOJO, namely achievement learning what it means for mojo.

Reputation, according to Marshall Goldsmith, is "where you add up who you are (identity) and what you have done (achievement) and toss the combined sum out into the world to see how people respond. Your reputation is people's recognition -- or rejection -- of your identity and achievement." The author goes on to explain that reputation is often the neglected component of Mojo makeup. "We don't have enough information to do much about it. So we ignore it" (page 64)

This is exactly true. We tend to think that reputation is not important to us. We consider ourselves as ordinary citizens and hence do not need any understanding or assessment of our MOJO element of reputation. The fact, though, is that reputation is as important to us as it to celebrities like Amitabh Bacchan or Kamal Hassan or M.S. Dhoni or Vishwanathan Anand or some other such person.

In this article, we will discuss a) Being "smart" or "effective" as far as reputation is concerned b) How to go about understanding our own reputation c) Changing our own reputation.

Being "smart" or "effective" as far as reputation is concerned

As explained by the author, being smart is what drives us at various stages of our lives. We are told to be smart. We are also told that we need to become smarter than everyone else at school, college and at work. We enter the rat race. We also exhibit, what the author calls "incredibly stupid behavior" as the author calls it. Yes, we tend to go on arguing endlessly and are sworn, bad listeners. However, not every human being behaves in this fashion. As the author points out, "there are people who are willing to sacrifice the fleeting buzz of needling to be smart for the more valuable feeling of being effective -- of delivering on time, of bringing out the best in others, of finding the simplest route to a solution." It goes without saying that their Mojo moments are those when they are proven effective listeners, give their subordinates enough elbow room to innovate and take bold decisions. Yes, there could be mistakes. But the risk is always worth it.

Mr. Sivakumar, CEO of e-choupal, the booming internet-based marketing initiative of ITC, that sought to have a very inclusive model of the key players in any village market, made a good presentation to the late chief of ITC, Mr. Deweshwar, who piloted ITC into a global powerhouse by launching a string of new businesses that were far removed from the main business of cigarettes. Today, that Mojo moment of
Mr. Sivakumar, when his idea was approved and put into action, became one of the best examples of Corporate success. Of empowerment and of shrewd decision-making. Today, ITC has a rural market for its products that far exceed those of its competitors.

It is hence essential that we build our own personal reputation by being smart and also effective. Obviously, being effective does mean that we allow others to grow, that we are seen as development-oriented and do not have narrow-minded views of our subordinates at any point in time.

How to go about understanding our own reputation

Marshall Goldsmith hits the bulls eye when he says that "because we don't keep track of our repeat behavior, we never see the patterns that others see. These are the patterns that shape our reputation -- and yet we are largely oblivious to them, and, in turn, our own reputation".

Patterns of behavior are of course, based on normal expectations. Across India, for example, men who respect women in every single way and allow them the space to express themselves have the highest reputation. This also starts at home. If we consistently behave well and are very conscious about what we speak with our wives, how we respect and speak to other women and the dignity we carry when we relate to women, including the vital body language, all these are extremely important too. How much are we aware of each of these parameters that would determine our reputation. If the pattern of behavior is consistent, our reputation will be high. If we make mistakes or behave in ways that lower our esteem of us in the eyes of others.our reputation will go down.

Changing our own reputation

Once again, the main rule is very clear. "The truth is, reputation doesn't happen overnight. In the same way that one event can't form your reputation, one corrective gesture can't reform it either. You need a sequence of consistent, similar actions to begin the rebuilding process".

We will illustrate this with a well-known example. Take the reputation of Sundram Finance, the best non-banking financial institution(NBFC) in India. It belongs to the Rs.60,000 crore TVS group. In this organization, one can always find ever helping staff who would not only smile at us but also advise us on personal savings, income-tax matters and so on. The FD receipts would be handed over to individual depositors in a few minutes and the entire atmosphere is one of warmth, of true and genuine care for customers. No wonder the organization holds fixed deposits in excess of over 2200 crore rupees from its depositors. It is the only organization that refuses to accept fixed deposits once it has crossed a particular level.

This is exactly the reputation that the author is talking about. Let us go back to the example of respecting women. So are one's beliefs and actions that the wider world sees in a particular person, on any single value that the entire society respects and wants as a routine. If he is a leader, all the more so.

No wonder Azim Premji of WIPRO and Ratan Tata stand out. Their views on every aspect of business life are respected widely in the business world, and not without reason. The consistent similar actions that the author talks about will also obviously be reflected in very good products and services. Take Hindustan Unilever. Till today, the organization's products are simply world-class. Their products always conform to standards that their advertisements talk about.

The widely respected and fastest-selling product called Fogg, which is nothing but a body spray with a good fragrance is a super hit only because it has consistently delivered what its advertisements talk about. A little bit of humor is also seen in the advertisements. Now let us take the well-known celebrities. When the whole world was talking about match-fixing, Sachin Tendulkar stood out. He had a huge reputation for personal honesty. At the end of it all, Sachin was seen as one tall leader.

Even today, Dr. Manmohan Singh is respected for his honesty and integrity. Dr. Abdul Kalam was such an honest leader that accounts of his honesty and integrity at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan are now widely talked about, several years after his death.

It is also obvious that we need to change our reputation if we had lost it somewhere down the line. Let us say, there is this manager who still has a full nine years of service. He is a tough taskmaster and though he has been successful in terms of production results, his reputation in terms of human relations is a big zero. This was reflected in a 360 degrees appraisal done by an expert HR expert. This feedback was also shared with him.

Over the next five years, each of his consistent actions should necessarily revolve around giving more time to listening to others, giving subordinates the elbow room to grow, allowing them to make mistakes, encouraging innovation and so on. He has to be really consistent. Every action of his will be weighed by subordinates and only when the real change is seen, can he be reassured of his changed reputation.


Irrespective of our position in terms of economic status or position in a formal organization, our reputation is very important to us. Knowing that we have a good reputation will enable us to have a good Mojo, and this will enable us to be good human beings. It is also essential that we learn to do some fundamental things that were discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs.


No responses found. Be the first to comment...

  • Do not include your name, "with regards" etc in the comment. Write detailed comment, relevant to the topic.
  • No HTML formatting and links to other web sites are allowed.
  • This is a strictly moderated site. Absolutely no spam allowed.
  • Name: