A corporate leader with a positive professional reputation enjoys a whole host of advantages, from getting a boost during the executive search and recruitment process to currying favor with the public once he or she is appointed to a leadership position within a company. But what exactly does it take for a CEO to establish a stellar reputation?
The recently released results of a survey by public relations firm Weber Shandwick may help shed some light. The study, which polled 1,700 senior executives who represented 19 countries, identified eight elements that separate highly thought-of CEOs from their less favorably regarded counterparts, Chief Executive Magazine reported. The first four of these are outlined below.
1. A clear corporate vision
Yogi Berra once said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there,” and this is definitely true of professional leadership. A CEO who dedicates the necessary time and effort to cultivating a clear corporate vision ultimately benefits people at all levels of the company. Employees who aren’t sure what they’re working toward are much more likely to be disengaged, and this can lead to poor performance, high turnover and other costly problems. Meanwhile, members of the C-suite will be hampered by a lack of clarity when it comes to formulating the strategies necessary to move the enterprise forward. To develop a strong corporate vision, the CEO needs to have an in-depth understanding not only of where the company’s going but also where it is right now. Without this knowledge, it will be almost impossible to identify a viable pathway between the present and the future.
2. The ability to inspire and motivate
Disengagement is a significant problem for businesses in all industries. Whatever the specifics of a worker’s duties, if the individual isn’t inspired or motivated to perform well, he or she will “phone it in” and the enterprise will suffer for it. Most of the time, personnel who are willing to go above and beyond want to see the firm succeed and be part of its success because they truly believe in their employer’s corporate vision. It’s hard to be enthused about your job if you don’t like, respect or relate to the CEO of your company, so in this regard, it’s critical for CEOs to inspire and motivate their subordinates. The nature of this inspiration depends on the firm’s corporate vision and the sector in which it operates. For instance, the CEO of a nonprofit can inspire workers by highlighting all the good that the organization has done in the past and will continue to do going forward, the leader of a cutting-edge technology company might point toward the evolutionary nature of the enterprise’s products and the executive of a health care corporation may underscore the literal life-or-death component of what the business does.
People respect honest, ethical leadership.”
3. Honesty and ethics
People respect honest, ethical leadership. Nobody likes to feel left out, but that’s exactly what happens when the CEO and other members of the C-suite hold important discussions behind closed doors. Of course, it’s necessary to maintain a measure of privacy in many instances, but CEOs who take the very simple step of improving transparency will likely see marked reputational gains as a result. Beyond bolstering their own reputations, leaders who are honest and ethical tend to command respect, which relates back to the ability to inspire and motivate discussed above. Employees who feel they are up to speed often perform better than their disconnected counterparts. After all, keeping these individuals up to speed can be seen as a sign of respect – you wouldn’t take the time to brief someone unless he or she matters to the organization.
4. Good internal communication skills
In a list compiled by Maren Hogan of the Young Entrepreneur Council and published by Forbes, poor communication was ranked the top bad leadership habit. It’s reasonable to make the assumption that CEOs who don’t express themselves clearly probably won’t be able to effectively share their corporate vision or inspire and motivate workers. Sometimes, busy leaders may be tempted to dash off emails or deliver hurried briefings so they can move on to the next item on their long list of tasks, but those tempted to do so should pause and think about the damage miscommunication can do – and not only to their reputations. There are countless examples of how poor communication can result in wasted labor, time and investment.
In part two, we delve into the second batch of qualities that tend to be exhibited by a CEO with a positive reputation: the desire to ensure the company is a good place to work, a global business outlook, the ability to be decisive and a focus on customers.
About Caldwell Partners
Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 40 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America and in London, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.