Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has been able to build and sustain one of the strongest reputations in the business world.

What's even more astounding is that most of the companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway have outstanding reputations of their own. Buffett puts his own reputation on the line through the decisions made by the managers that run his companies. 

This is why one of Buffett's highest measures of success is your reputation, bar none. It's an invaluable asset that should be guarded every day. To bolster this point, consider two quotes famously attributed to Buffett:

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."

And this:

"Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless."

The foundation for a strong reputation

What's at the core of maintaining a great reputation? Not risking your integrity. These statements from Buffett are all about making sure that you stay true to yourself, your values, even when faced with challenging and stressful situations. Business is full of tough decisions, so it's really important to walk the talk of integrity in the heat of the moment. He understands the value of integrity.

You'll find that people operating with character and integrity can be trusted; you never have to worry about their actions, or whether they're hiding anything from anyone. A leader with character brings more truth and truth-tellers to the business, which makes it very attractive to those seeking honest brands. A culture of integrity and honesty differentiates itself from the rest and is the core and essence of any great company. 

Buffett learned long ago the competitive advantage that comes from having integrity guide business decisions and protect your reputation. And it starts with whom you hire.

Buffett advises leaders to weigh integrity above all traits when assessing job candidates during the interview process. He is quoted everywhere with this timeless piece of advice: 

We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don't have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you're going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.

In closing, treat your leadership and business practice as a reflection of yourself, and that means guarding your reputation at all costs. Be considerate and respectful of how your decisions affect others and embrace every opportunity to add value to those you serve.