In this complex, digital and global business world, everything is publicly broadcasted instantaneously. Every CEO needs to be aware of how their actions, words and behaviours impact the marketplace. They must not only be transparent in their communications, but ensure they give a positive first impression.
Social media exaggerates the above, as it’s often the channel through which an executive communicates the first impression. The online message needs to be congruent with the values of the organization and received in the manner that was intended. Reputation management will soon become a major priority for every leader.
Perhaps it is time for a new position in the executive suite — CRO (chief reputation officer). Nowadays, every leader needs to be managed similar to a Hollywood star or politician.
However, most organizations may not want to add this non-revenue producing position. If not, there are others who can help. Here are some of the services a forward–thinking, senior manager can engage which will mitigate the risk of exposure.
Executive coach: Most managers do not land in the executive suite totally prepared and experienced in the areas of communication, professional ethics or with a natural charisma. Many are receiving (discrete) support from an experienced coach. This individual has often been in the executive chair themselves, will support you and tell you the truth, even about your weaknesses.
Mastermind group: A senior executive should never confide in another staff member in the same organization. A better alternative would be to join a mastermind group or engage in peer mentoring with another trusted executive.
Speechwriter: To avoid being quoted incorrectly, an executive in the public arena should employ a professional speechwriter. Not only do they give speeches to employees, but also to community groups, other business leaders, politicians, customers, and suppliers. The speech writer must keep the leader natural, but bring out their best when articulating positions.
The path to success is riddled with executive bodies who were victims of being misinterpreted. Even in this age of social media, leaders who can articulate clearly always have an edge over others.
Social media expert: Communication is now technical and instantaneous, so a social media guru is an absolute necessity in today’s wired world. Don’t delegate this role to a low level employee who tweets boring, bland, blog posts. This is a sure way to turn off the next generation of customers, employees and partners.
Crisis PR: When things go wrong, there must be laser-focused, critical thinking. Most executives are juggling numerous big issues, both corporate and personal, that can distract critical thinking because it can often be emotional. A Crisis PR who specializes in damage control is a necessary ally.
Personal image specialist: Today’s CEO must not only be good and do good, they need to appear good. A personal image specialist is necessary to support the most important job in any company. This person is responsible to ensure the boss dresses appropriately and depicts an image that is in alignment with the corporate values.
All Fortune 500 companies have a team who handles what the message is and how it is delivered to stakeholders. The CCO (corporate communications officer) coordinates the activities of the team and often reports to the CEO.
My question for executives this week: “What are you proactively doing to protect the image of your top leader and organization?”
Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF, CSPGlobal, Canada’s leadership effectiveness expert, is CEO of Gateway Leadership in Charlottetown, a boutique company which supplies speakers, trainers and consultants that best matches an organization's needs.