Why CEO Reputation is More Important Now Than Ever Before
Back in February Bill examined the reputation of AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, and how his image and management style has an influence on the company. But now, new data from HubSpot,IBM, and San Diego State University tells us that CEO reputation may have a further impact than previously realized.
Are CEOs Anti-Social?
1.4 billion people are on Facebook. More than 645 million people are on Twitter, too. But as HubSpot points out, only 1 in 5 CEOs have a social media account. Are CEOs anti-social? Maybe. Only 50% of CEOs have a personal bio on their website, and even fewer have LinkedIn accounts. It seems that executives prefer to ignore social media and personal connection entirely.
Why CEOs Can’t Afford to Ignore Social Media (or Their Reputation)
Though it’s clear many CEOs haven’t given social media a moment’s notice, this is obviously a mistake. IBM’s Global CEO Study shared several important findings that tell us CEO reputation is essential to the success of any company, and that social media is a tool that can help CEOs support a strong reputation as an executive:
“As CEOs ratchet up the level of openness within their organizations, they are developing collaborative environments where employees are encouraged to speak up, exercise personal initiative, connect with fellow collaborators, and innovate,” shares the IBM study.
That means CEOs themselves need to speak up — and social media is a good outlet for doing so. One encouraging trend shows that although CEO social media participation is currently low, more than half of CEOs are expected to begin participating in social media over the next five years.
CEO Reputation is Growing in Importance
This move toward social media is only part of a shift in thinking on CEO reputation. While in the past, CEOs may have been happy to simply get any kind of press — positive or negative — we are now seeing that media concerning CEOs will set the tone for overall company publicity. In other words, if CEOs receive more bad press than good, media for the entire company tends to be negative as well.
Findings from a San Diego State University research study indicate that CEO media tone can impact organizational visibility as well, meaning CEO media can influence not just the tone but the impact of media coverage for the entire company.
In addition to publicity, CEO reputation sets the tone for the company’s overall reputation. In a Weber Shandwick research study, almost one half (49%) of a company’s overall reputation is attributed to a CEO’s reputation. Further, 66% of consumers report that CEO perception influences their opinion of a company’s reputation. The study also notes that 60% of a company’s market value is attributed to reputation.
How CEOs Can Develop a Reputation That Supports the Company — and Themselves
Reputation is clearly a high stakes game for CEOs and the organizations they serve. How can CEOs work to build and maintain a positive reputation that can support them, as well as their company?
- Practice strong reputation management principles — just like everyone else: CEOs should make an effort to assess, monitor, connect, and influence online, as well as manage any negative publicity that may pop up. And though some CEOs may feel social media is unnecessary, it is in fact an important tool for connection, engagement, and reputation building.
- Build credibility and integrity: Though CEOs are already in a place of authority, it’s important that they develop credibility by demonstrating trustworthiness and consistency.
- Focus on internal communications: We know how important employee reviews and employee activists are to any company’s reputation. They are, in fact, the most trusted voice of any organization, even over the CEO. While an externally positive reputation is important, so is an internal one. Executives should work carefully to maintain a positive relationship and influence on the employees they lead with transparency and genuine support.
In the coming months and years, we expect to see CEO reputation grow in importance and influence. Is your reputation ready to compete on the global market?