Identity Vs. Reputation

StageHere at Hogan we have a lot of conversations about pretty complicated stuff, and odds are, if you are reading this, you have at some point been on the other end of one of those conversations. It is always our goal to simplify concepts into language that is more readily understood. It’s not that we are more intelligent than those with whom we speak, but we live and breathe personality assessment and the vast majority of people (read: normal people) don’t. One concept that seems frequently misunderstood is identity vs. reputation. Identity is how we view ourselves, reputation is how others view us.

The easiest way to explain this concept is in terms of American Idol. Even if you don’t typically watch the show, you have probably seen at least one audition from someone who either blew the judges away with their talent, or their horrendous lack thereof. Let’s focus on the latter: the people we’ve watched get crushed by the judges’ words. What’s fascinating is that at some point those poor souls decided that they possessed the vocal vigor to become a star. According to their identity, they could actually do something great. Their reputation is what the judges perceived, and as we’ve all seen, there is often a significant disparity between the two.

Why is this so important? If the contest were to be based on performers’ own perceptions of their talent, the show would need to be called “American Idols,” as everyone would be a star. The truth is that performers’ assessment of their own talent is largely irrelevant – success depends on how others rate their ability to sing and perform. The same can be said for the vast majority of our daily activities and interactions, particularly in occupational settings. Business success depends on results, not sense of self. Challenges to getting along and getting ahead emerge when we fail to realize that our internal story is trivial to others; it is the external perception of our behavior that truly matters. As harsh as it sounds, unless you are on a first date or sitting around a table of drinks with friends, the story that makes you you just doesn’t matter.

Now, I can see your wheels turning and hear the words formulating in your head: “But wait a minute…I have seen a Hogan assessment and it asks people to answer questions about themselves. If reputation is more important, then why do you ask someone about their identity?” It’s an excellent question and the answer is much more straight forward than the means through which it was accomplished. The Drs. Hogan found that, although relatively irrelevant, identity is a very reliable means of predicting reputation. The assessments do ask identity based questions, however, the results report how others generally perceive people who answer the questions in that way. To make that simple, we are not going to tell you about yourself, as you know a lot more about you than anyone else. We will, however, tell you how others are likely to describe you based on how you describe yourself. Furthermore, we will help to provide you with the wisdom to become an American Idol, or perhaps to know when you should walk away from the stage.