A few years ago, I praised the president of a successful company for his role as an executive and entrepreneur and for creating value for the company's brand. In response, I heard that the achievement was not easy, but there was a simple recipe to achieve it: discipline associated with consistency. The secret, he told me, was to concentrate energy on five vital themes for the business: growth and investment plan, innovation, people and culture, and cost management and what he called executive positioning – the strategic management of one's own image. and individual reputation in line with business objectives. “Without clear governance for each of the themes, there is no miracle”, he concluded.
I reinforced, then, a perception that I have been confirming over time: the leader's reputation has gained the status of job description on chairs C-Level.
Never before has the leader's reputation been such an important component in corporate strategy, brand management and business success. This situation was certainly driven by increased public expectations regarding the leader's role, as well as pressure from society, investors and the market for more transparent and forceful positions; new generations inspired by leaders with purpose and personal dimension and corporate boards, increasingly looking for senior executives with power of influence, network and occupation of spaces. In addition, the leader's reputation can be an asset or a liability for the company. A simple announcement of the departure or arrival of a C-Level executive in publicly traded companies, for example, is capable of increasing or decreasing the value of the share.
But there are cases of very well-positioned executives, with excellent reputations and at the peak of their careers, who do not enjoy the gains because they are not familiar with professional image and reputation management. Many still have the mistaken understanding that working with the individual, their own brand, is linked to egocentrism, personalism or vanity. Some avoid it because they assume that the strategy involves exposure and others are afraid that the initiative will be perceived as a use of the company for personal promotion.
Here, I return to the initial reflection of the job description: would you, at the head of the company, carry out isolated actions that change the course of the business, regardless of a diagnosis or strategic plan? Would you approve investments without clarity on where you want to go? As with any management topic that is vital in the business agenda, a leader's reputation requires rigor in its treatment. Clarity of the place of arrival, alignment with the business strategy, planning, method, process, follow-up.
“Many still have the mistaken understanding that working on the individual, their own brand, is linked to egocentrism, personalism or vanity.”
So that the focus is on capturing value, managing one's own reputation is a mandatory competence, part of the routine of senior leadership positions. And, as that president told me, consistency and discipline are key factors in this equation. Accompanying leaders in their journeys of evolution in the subject, it is easy to see that those who used these powerful ingredients, based on professional work, with method and follow-up, reaped more results, boosted their careers and are cases of value for their companies. They turned consequence into strategy, as reputation cannot be controlled, but it can (and should!) be managed.
Finally, I ask: why should a leader leave to others the responsibility of managing an asset that is his – and which is part of his own job description?
Jessica PaivThe is a partner and director of Product at ANK Reputation
The signed articles reflect the opinion of the authors