The leader’s reputation is paramount

How trustworthy is your leader?
Photo: Geoff Marshall

The personal reputation of the CEO counts. According to Burson-Marsteller, up to 50% of an organisation’s reputation is derived from the reputation of the CEO. The assertion is derived from an international study Burson-Marsteller conducted in different continents and which polled people from very different perspectives.

Such findings emphasise the significance of what anyone leading an organisation, a business unit or simply a team, does. How he or she behaves will deliver assumptions about the rest of the crew. This can range from political stances, to integrity, to personal traits. It’s always been the case that people make assumptions about an entire organisation based on the individual they personally had dealings with. Leaders, however, have a much higher profile and therefore a wider audience – hence the link.

For Northwest Europe, Burson-Marsteller found two characteristics that had particular significance and impact:

Trustworthiness and the ability to manage crises effectively.

Only two? That’s great! Except that trustworthiness is such a difficult characteristic to convey and people only know you’re good in a crisis when one happens. Basically, if you’re not trustworthy, it’s hard to pretend that you are, and if you mismanage a crisis, it’s hard to pretend that you didn’t.

The good news is that being trustworthy is something that can be practiced – it just requires self-discipline and a bit of feedback. Being good in a crisis can also be practiced. Knowing how you react under pressure, performing a thorough risk analysis and then thinking through appropriate responses are likely to make a big difference.


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