Protecting and managing your reputation as a CEO is crucial during challenging times. Your reputation is your most valuable asset. Every leader has their mettle tested when times are turbulent.
Reputation management for CEOs
For today’s CEOs, the currents are particularly choppy, be it due to a global pandemic, economic downturns, harsh funding environments or supply chain challenges as a result of conflict. One of the first casualties in such times can be a CEO’s reputation.
Here are pragmatic steps to take as a CEO to help protect and manage your reputation:
1. Transparent Communication
One of the most potent tools at your disposal is transparent communication. Honesty is the best policy even if you find yourself dreading facing a difficult situation. If your company is making redundancies, reducing costs, or finding it hard to raise funding, be upfront about it with your team and stakeholders. Be precise about the reasons behind such decisions and engage in proactive, ongoing conversation about the same. Communicate about tough decisions with empathy, provide justifications rooted in logic, and offer reassurances where possible. By taking a transparent approach you are safeguarding your reputation simply by doing the ‘right thing’ despite it being the harder road personally.
2. Realign your Vision
Trying times call for revisiting and, if necessary, redefining your business vision. Involve your team in this process. Realignment and redefinition can ignite a spirit of united resilience within the company and lead to innovative strategies. This also has a positive impact on your reputation as a leader who is adaptable and open to collaborative solutions.
3. Make Ethical Decisions
In times of crisis, actions speak louder than words. Try to make decisions that are humane and ethical. If you have to let people go, ensure they receive their dues and are offered help to find their next opportunity, if possible. A human and ethical approach will strengthen your reputation as a compassionate leader. Remember that even staff who are redundant are ambassadors for your company. When looking for new employees down the line you benefit from a strong reputation as a fair and decent employer.
4. Be Accessible
Accessibility is another trait people value highly in a leader, especially during challenging times. Be reachable for your employees and investors. Regular updates, even virtual ‘open-door’ meetings can go a long way in boosting your reputation, as it allows for constructive discussions, clear doubts and quell rumour mills.
5. Invest in Personal Branding
Consider your personal brand as a CEO and reflect on how you want to be perceived by your employees, investors, stakeholders and the public. Reinforce your commitment to your values and your company, share success stories and learnings from failures alike. Leverage social media platforms to voice your thoughts and show your adaptive leadership capabilities.
6. Seek Expert Advice
Engage the counsel of reputation management services or PR agencies. Advice for navigating turbulent waters is invaluable, and they should be able to provide you with strategies to prevent potential damage to your reputation.
Remember, it is not just about surviving a crisis but also how you emerge from it. A reputation built on trust, ethics, transparency, and resilience is one that will endure challenges and reinforce your leadership in the long-run. It can take years to build a reputation, but only five minutes to ruin it.
Our Reputation Management services
If you’d like to chat to us about reputation management for CEOs, ClearStory International is skilled in reputation building and management helping you traverse crises so you can look at reevaluating your own commercial priorities. Feel free to drop us an email, or book a call.