Reputation Principles to Shape a New Government

By John Keilthy

All those newly elected to the Dail in the recent General Election are busy reviewing their options in light of the lack of a clear preference on the part of the electorate. 

A common theme in the current narrative of all parties and independents is a reference to the need for stability. 

No one, it appears,  wishes to derail the welcome, if concentrated, recovery.

One of the challenges that has plagued successive Governments has been managing the often conflicting interests and concerns of different stakeholders.

This certainly undermined the efforts of the last Government where the interests of the Troika and financial markets were seen to have unfairly outweighed the interests of “ordinary people”.

The words of the poet John Lydgate, later adapted by US President, Abraham Lincoln, come to mind – “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

Whatever government emerges from the current impasse, the key to its sustainability will be its ability to retain trust and manage expectations.

One way of doing this is for the new government to anchor its future desired positioning around a set of transparent and non-negotiable reputation-led principles that will resonate with all stakeholders.

Taking from our work with a wide range of global and local businesses and organisations, the following are key reputation guiding principles that could be adopted by any new government.

•    Do what you say (Walk the talk. Don’t say one thing and do something different)

•    Take the blame as well as the credit (Government won't always get it right, so accept that and acknowledge when you get something wrong)

•    Show empathy (Acknowledge different perspectives but don’t try to please everybody)

•    Encourage responsibility  (Be accountable for your own actions first. That will encourage others to take responsibility for theirs)

•    Demonstrate candour (Tell it as it is. In the current digital age, the electorate know much more than Governments give them credit for)

•    Act with integrity  (Behave in a principled way, even when there is a strong temptation to do otherwise)

The opportunity presenting itself to our elected representatives now is to embrace the learnings from the past, apply them to the future and create a sustainable government befitting the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

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