What Do Credibility, Trust and Reputation Buy You?

When you have trust, credibility, and reputation, you have an admission ticket into stakeholders’ lives and into a relationship with them. You have the right to engage and interact with them in the ways that are important or even necessary for your business to be successful.


You can’t buy admission tickets into stakeholders’ lives with real-world cash. Admission tickets must be earned.


Reputation gives you permission to continue operating/selling services/offering products, to expect more performance from employees, to get the rates or regulatory actions wanted or needed, to have loyalty among stakeholders, and to continuing growing and thriving over time. Without trust, credibility, and reputation with stakeholders inside and outside the company, reputation suffers, and normal operations and growth can be very difficult.

Isn’t a paycheck or a distinctive product the admission tick into relationships with employees or customers?


Sure. But a paycheck or a purchase can also be transactional albeit reliable in getting the basics from stakeholders over the short term. At best, they represent one positive interaction in time, in a single transaction or maybe a few transactions. Transactional relationships get you into the concession stand at the movie theatre or the first act of a play.

Without credibility, trust and reputation, relationships are transactional, the minimum, and eventually the admission tickets expire. Without credibility, trust and reputation you don’t have the permission to ask for more from stakeholders.

A strong culture of trust and internal reputation gives you permission to ask employees for more performance and more loyalty (retention, etc.) Pride is a powerful motivator for employees. When they feel that, your admission ticket opens so many more possibilities for your organization. With customers, when you have strong credibility, trust, and reputation, you have permission to ask for more loyalty (successive purchases), advocacy and even fandom.

Rather than being transactional, admission tickets based in credibility, trust and reputation are more like an annual pass or longer. Positive reputation makes relationships sustainable over time.

There is a way of thinking that causes more harm to reputation than perhaps any other. It is the notion that you automatically have a right -permission – to be a part of your stakeholders’ lives. You do not. It’s earned.


You gain permission (admission tickets) by identifying with stakeholders and building trust. You build trust with contributions to the relationship that offer value and meaning.

Consider the admission ticket to be a generous contribution you are making to stakeholders’ lives


An admission ticket is basically a gift, a generous contribution you are making to stakeholders. This could be as simple as understanding their deeply held beliefs and ambitions and providing insights to help them achieve it. That’s a simple contribution, but it qualifies as a generous contribution for an admission ticket. Or the contribution can be far more substantive. This generous gift or contribution – not money, but what you bring to the relationship to open the door – this is a real basis of reputation.

Marylou McNally is author of The Reputation Bank, an interactive planning tool and training program that is designed to help people and organizations build stronger stakeholder relationships, improve stakeholder-centric decision-making, and drive positive reputation. Learn more at www.thereputationbank.com.