I can hardly keep up with all the reputation-related info that crosses my mind these days. Of course, I think everything is related to reputation in one way or another so it is hard to imagine a day without reputation overload. And now it is Saturday afternoon and I should be outside but I wanted to get some thoughts out on my blog. So here are just a few random thoughts and reputation revelations that happened this week:
1. I did a brief introduction to a panel this week for CECP (formerly known as the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy). It was their 2013 CECP Summit: Ahead Together and they launched a new branding and strategic engagement model. We discussed these changes with Margaret Coady, Executive Director and Daryl Brewster, their new CEO. Like all of us, they are changing with the times as “engagement” becomes critically important to the sustainability of an organization. In addition, emerging trends in Corporate Philantrophy were presented and everyone was excited to hear if giving had changed over the past year. What interested me was learning that giving has actually increased since the economic downturn. Median total giving spiked in 2012 to $35.30 million, approaching pre-recession levels. I was also particularly interested in their finding that companies have re-prioritized certain program areas and education has become the most popular program area. The reason given is that educational giving is tied to creating a solid pipeline for employment. This can only be a good thing.
2. It was good to also have a conversation with Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup and now founder and CEO of Conant Leadership. We met about 10 years ago when we talked about CEO reputation and I recalled how intensely interested and up-t0-date he was onall things leadership. A true student of leadership. It was nice to see him since I still have the handwritten personal thank you note he wrote me after that meeting. Very memorable.
3. strategy + business had an article this week on Captains in Disruption.This off shoot article is related to their wonderful annual CEO transition survey they do every year. I will be reading that next. This year they took on the topic of whether CEOs are prepared for crises and truly disruptive events. I liked this statement from Clayton Christensen of Harvard who was explaining why top executives do not have access they need to make predictions about the future and where they will be courting disaster. He said, ““Data is heavy. It wants to go down, not up, in an organization. Information about problems thus sinks to the bottom, out of the eyesight and earshot of the senior managers.” So true. Problems when they reach top management are whispers although they begin as shouts at the bottom. Here is Booz & Co.’s advice in the article on planning for disruption:
1. The CEO is the single most critical player in crafting and carrying out a response.
2. It is critical to begin breaking down human inertia.
3. CEOs must make cogent decisions about the team of top executives.
4. It is important to choose a small team of top decision makers to lead the response.
Enjoy the day.
In a recent article on CEO compensation, there was a graphic that caught my eye. You can see it here. Obviously, it reflects the general reputation of CEOs — sitting on a throne of cash , talking on the cellphone while sunbathing. He does not looked too taxed. Scarily, he looks like Don Draper of Mad Men. Wonder if that was intentional.
The graphic is interesting because it never seems to change. Perceptions of CEOs in general are overwhelmingly negative. However, in research we have done, the results are quite different when you ask employees about their own CEOs. Mostly they give them fairly positive ratings….it’s just all those CEOs out there that no one works for that gives them a bad name.
Either way, whether they get paid too much or not enough for the sweat and tears of the job, CEOs usually receive negative and unflattering portraits like this one.
A thought for the day. Some reputations never change.
Who would have thought? Being a social CEO impacts company reputation! Well it’s true. There are true business results when CEOs participate in social media. We just launched our new Social CEO study this morning – The Social CEO: Executives Tell All, a survey of 600+ executives in 10 global markets with KRC Research about what they think about CEOs engaging online. Months ago we surveyed the landscape and saw that there really was little information about what executives inside organizations actually thought about their CEOs going social. We wanted to get a birds-eye view on how it actually makes executives (managers and up) feel to have a social CEO — does it make you feel good? nervous? embarrassed? ahead of the competition? inspired? We also were interested in uncovering how CEO sociability impacted the bottom line if at all.
Here’s a few findings to get you interested in downloading the report and infographic:
- The majority of global executives (76%) believe it is a GOOD IDEA for CEOs to actively participate in social media. The demand is there and it is not just in the United States.
- Executives recognize a multitude of returns when CEOs are social, including improved company reputation (78% say so) and employee engagement (75%). Clearly, CEO sociability is a competitive advantage and will only grow more so.
- CEO’s social media presence makes executives feel inspired (52%), technologically-advanced (46%) and proud (41%). Very few are nervous or embarrassed (6%). Nearly one in three (30%) find it amusing.
One of the more interesting tidbits was that executives are curious about what their CEOs are doing online. The majority (73%) search to see what their CEOs are saying in social media. CEOs are being watched carefully and social media now provides the opportunity to do so.
Most importantly, the time for social CEOs has come. The barriers are coming down and there is no one way to be social. Senior executives from around the globe envision big leaps in CEO sociability in their respective industries, projecting a 50% growth rate over the course of the next five years. Executives in financial services and business services expect the highest rate of CEO sociability growth over the next five years. As increasingly more companies, boards and leaders recognize that CEO sociability helps drive reputation, the more we will see CEOs stepping into social waters. The report discusses how CEOs can be social internally as well as externally. This is not just a social media game. CEO sociability can be driven from within. The point is that CEOs need to engage and using social means is their lifeline to starting a conversation with a broad portfolio of stakeholders.
More to come in my next post.
Interesting news came across my alerts yesterday. A private equity company, Catalyst Investors, made a minority equity investment in Reputation Institute. This news caused a friend of mine, Bruce Rogers, who is the chief insights officer for Forbes and columnist on thought leadership to write, “Reputation management is the new black in corporate strategy.” He sure is right. The topic of reputation is now radioactive. I think it has nearly passed the term “sustainability” in terms of sheer mentions (I did not think I was right but I was!…in a Google search I just did, reputation had nearly 406 million hits and sustainability had 82 million).
I enjoyed reading Bruce’s interview with partners at RI. Interesting fact — according to the partners from RI, they have grown 43% on average per year over the past 8 years. This speaks to reputation’s importance on CEO and board agendas today.
Bruce asked how companies were implementing reputation management programs and one of RI’s partners, Nicolas Georges Trad, responded in the following way:
“Companies find themselves at different stages of the reputation journey. From Stage 1 where they are exploring what reputation is and how it is affecting their business. Over Stage 3 where they have company specific intelligence that they can use for business planning and integration. To Stage 5 where they are able to make reputation based decisions because they have the relevant intelligence on what matters to customers and other key stakeholders. But this is still a new business focus. 87% of companies are still in stage 1-3 but we see a wave of companies investing in reputation management to move up the chain and use reputation as a business driver.” This is an accurate assessment from what I can tell too. The good news is that companies are starting the journey.
Upon hearing the news, I sent an email to the executive chairman and founder of RI, Charles Fombrun, congratulating him. I met Charles many years ago when he held his first reputation forum at New York University. It must have been the end of the 1990s and there were few reputation tracking programs available at all. There was Fortune’s Most Admired which I was intimately familiar with and the seeds of Reputation Quotient that Charles had just started thinking about. That may have been also when I met my good friend and reputation expert Joy Sever who worked with Charles on that first RQ. I recall the forum well because I was not happy hearing the criticism about the Most Admired study and how it needed changing (he was right) to reflect the many dimensions of reputation. I can’t say for sure but Charles had at that time written the first book on reputation and my books soon followed on slightly different topics — the role of the CEO in reputation building and reputation recovery and defense.
Ironically just this past week, I presented my thoughts on reputation trends to RI’s other founder, Cees van Riel, and his communications executives working on their masters degrees at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. It felt like I had gone full circle from that day I attended the forum at NYU — the news that reputation was a worthy investment, seeing Cees after many years, emailing with Charles and of course reading Bruce’s column. Bruce and I were once dueling CMOs when he led Forbes’ marketing and I ran Fortune’s. Three degrees of separation.
Congratulations to RI, Charles and Cees and the others I know, for building interest in reputation, adding to the body of knowledge on reputation with solid global data and providing gravitas to the world of reputation
I thought this was one of the stranger things I have seen. A reputation specialist JW Maxx Solutions issued a press release with this headline and with the text below. Talk about trying to sell your services on the good (or bad) fortune of another (Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan). I was trying to think what category this fits into on my blog (see categories to the right). I think the only one I can think of is a new one — reputation chutzpah. Just thought I’d share here.
Reputation Specialist JW Maxx Solutions Honors JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon
Reputation specialist JW Maxx Solutions salutes Jamie Dimon for maintaining a sterling reputation as a banker and boss at JPMorgan. Dimon not only kept Chase profitable throughout the financial crisis of 2008 as banks around him crumbled, but most recently, shareholders voted to allow him to retain two pivotal leadership roles at Chase: CEO and chairman.
The vote, held on Tuesday, spoke to Dimon’s efficacy and success as a leader and decision-maker. Only 32 percent of shareholders voted to oust him.
Dimon, 57, helped JPMorgan achieve record profits over the last three years while many competitors struggled just to stay afloat. This reputation specialist of a manager is not without his critics, however. “His political capital has been diminished,” says Mark Williams, a former bank examiner. “Dimon portrayed himself as the responsible banker through the financial storm, but we’ve learned that he is no better than all the other risk-taking bankers.”
With the entire financial industry demonized after the most recent meltdown, “bank” has largely become a four-letter word. But through it all, Dimon’s characteristic successes and trademark popularity have helped him remain steadfastly at the top of his industry. “I have tremendous respect for someone who so aggressively maintains his stature against all odds,” says Walter Halicki, founder and CEO of JW Maxx Solutions. “Many people make poor decisions and lack the discretion to understand that their reputations stay with them forever. There’s no foresight. Jamie Dimon understands the cause-and-effect balance of being in the media spotlight, especially in such a volatile time.”
Within days of the shareholders’ vote, shares of JPMorgan Chase steadily inched up 2.1 percent, finally ending up at $53.38.
Reputation specialist JW Maxx Solutions is acclaimed for its reputation repair and reputation management services. Operating throughout the country and across the globe, JW Maxx Solutions has come to the aid of companies in virtually every industry, from cutting edge technology firms to tropical resorts, helping them maintain and control they way they are perceived online among the world’s most trafficked search engines.
Reputation specialist JW Maxx Solutions can be contacted at:
Phone: (602) 953 — 7798
11811 N Tatum Blvd, Suite 3031
Phoenix, AZ 85028
I think bad news comes in threes. Thinking about President Obama and the recent bad news he has received regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the secretly snatched AP reporters’ phone records, it has to be true. It is the culmination and convergence of these three reputation hits that changed the political balance in favor of the Republicans and Tea Party members for a change. Not a full tilt but enough to rain on the President’s parade.
When I talk to company leaders about what drives a reputation into the ground, I often use the baseball metaphor that all it takes is three strikes and you are out. The first mistake happens to just about everyone these days. The second reputation hit is basically unforgivable but no one wants to put you out of business. The third hit takes you down because it is clear that leadership was absent and judgement was non-existent or negligent (even worse). When I think of the perfect example of the Three Strike Reputation Rule, I think of BP. First, they were tied to 15 deaths when the Texas Refinery blew up in 2005 in the US. Second, an oil leak in Alaska from their pipeline in Prudhoe Bay captured negative attention. But third, and for the final straw, the horrific Gulf of Mexico oil spill that ultimately drove their reputation into the ground, along with their CEO’s Tony Hayward. After the third strike, it’s time to call it quits.
Yet, from what I’ve been reading, President Obama’s approval ratings have barely budged from their high marks. Perhaps we will see the proof in the pudding at the next election cycle. Hard to tell. And BP, after much soul searching, is coming back again with new leadership, better values and a new heartbeat. The rest is yet to come.
Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said the company’s next chief executive officer will bolster the company’s reputation as a source of stability in times of crisis. Talk about a shot of credibility if your company is in crisis or in doubt. He was referring to his infusion of funds into leading financial institutions when their stocks were slipping during the Great Recession.
At the company’s annual meeting in Nebraska, Buffet said the following:
“Berkshire is the 800-number when there’s really sort of panic in markets.”
I was eager to read JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s Letter to Shareholders this year. Considering the London Whale episode of the past year, I thought his Letter would be revealing. He clearly did not skirt the issue. I cut and paste some quotes below which are direct, apologetic and conciliatory. Also, I used the picture from the Letter to Shareholders here because it was surprising in that it almost looked like a man running for office but mostly because it is something that we advise clients which is to make better use of photos of their CEOs and execs with people (preferably employees) and not alone in some corner office isolated and solitary. You can’t know what is going on in your company by spending too much time in the office. It derails CEOs all the time.
What I like was how he presented his lessons learned for his reputation recovery plan. They are bulleted below as follows and include a favorite piece of advice of mine — problems don’t age well:
- Fight Complaceny
- Overcome conflict avoidance
- Risk Management 101: Controls must match risk
- Trust and verify
- Problems don’t age well
- Continue to share what you know when you know it
- Mistakes have consequences
- Never lose sight of the main mission: serving clients
On Responsibility: “I also want our shareholders to know that I take personal responsibility for what happened. I deeply apologize to you, our shareholders, and to others, including our regulators, who were affected by this mistake.”
On Complacency: “Complacency sets in when you start assuming that tomorrow will look more or less like today – and when you stop looking at yourself and your colleagues with a tough, honest, critical eye. Avoiding complacency means inviting others to question your logic and decisions in a disciplined way. Even when – and especially when – things have been going well for a long time, rigorous reviews must always take place.”
On the Aftermath: “There are a few things, however, that occurred this past year that we are not proud of. The “London Whale” episode not only cost us money — it was extremely embarrassing, opened us up to severe criticism, damaged our reputation and resulted in litigation and investigations that are still ongoing.”
On Reputation Committees: “That’s why we have a risk committee framework within the firm with extremely detailed reporting and many other checks and balances (like reputation committees, underwriting committees and others) to make sure we have a disciplined process in place to question our own thinking so we can spot mistakes before they do real damage.”
On my travels, I met with the CEO of Ocean Park (disclosure: a client) in Hong Kong. Ocean Park is a theme park that promises to connect people with nature and provide memorable experiences for all. Although I had several memorable experiences seeing my first Panda and getting a personal behind the scenes tour of how Pandas are taken care of, I also had an unplanned memorable experience that had simply to do with people. After my presentation on Social CEOs to the executive team, Ocean Park’s CEO Tom Merhrmann joined us outside as we started our tour. Tom is a very social CEO as you can see in his discussion of the Halloween bash with Marketing Magazine or impersonating Elvis, let alone his presence on Facebook and LinkedIn.
When we were outside the meeting room, we quickly ran into two Ocean Park visitors who were enjoying the park. Within seconds, I saw Tom offering to take their picture with one of the girl’s cameras. I had no doubt that the visitors had no idea who he was but were only glad to have their picture taken together to create their own memories of the day. It was nice to see that how observant he was of his customers’ concerns. A few seconds later, I turned around to see him picking up some litter that had fallen to the ground. Between watching a CEO connecting with customers and picking up a speck of garbage to keep a park pristine as it could be, he reminded me that being socially-media savvy is just one element of leadership.
As you already know, I am keenly interested in how CEOs manage their tenures. In my book on CEO reputation, I referred to the various stages of a CEO’s tenure as the seasons of a CEO. When I wrote it several years ago, it started with the Countdown period (pre-announcement), the first 100 days, the first year, the middle years and ends with the last 100 hours and legacy-setting. Since then, I have continued to follow CEOs closely but have been particularly fascinated by how CEOs can use social platforms to build their companies’ reputations and to some extent, their own. That is what I explained in this new article on CEOs getting social in their early tenure. (See also Weber Shandwick’s Socializing Your CEO II)
Surprising to me, despite billions of people communicating and socializing online, little has changed in experts’ advice to CEOs or other executives on how to navigate their early tenure by taking advantage of social tools. In three separate research investigations on how CEOs spend their time by Harvard Business School, the European University Institute and the London School of Economics, and Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti, the words “social” or “digital” did not appear once in the nearly 30,000 words written. Management consultants’ white papers on CEO transitions reveal little attention to how to effectively use social platforms. I have about 15 articles with smart advice on CEO successions and transitions that I send to new CEOs and not one mentions using social media. Further still, an online search of the most relevant 30 hits for “how CEOs should use social media in their first 100 days” does not retrieve a concise blueprint whatsoever. Instead, the mentions consist of lists of Twittering CEOs, reasons why CEOs don’t use social media, events and primers for getting into the social game, articles written by CEOs of digital agencies, and do’s and don’ts for CEOs who use social media.
Social media should be incorporated into new CEOs’ early playbooks. Whether CEOs are communicating, engaging in two-way conversation or simply listening in, social media platforms should be gradually adopted. As technology increasingly permeates all aspects of business and society, CEOs cannot afford to be out of touch with their cultures, how their products or services are being received and what their competitors are up to. Moreover, as the next generation of technology-literate CEOs start taking office as 77 million baby boomers leave the stage, being socially-literate will become the norm, not the exception.
For these reasons and because all these management consultants seemed to be overlooking social media as a leadership tool in their early CEO days, I wrote this article titled Get Social: A Mandate for New CEOs. It just appeared this week on MIT Sloan Management Review’s nicely redesigned Social Business site. Please take a look if you are a new CEO and getting the social bug! Or if you are advising CEOs to jump on the social bandwagon even a little. I firmly and proudly believe that this might be the first (or among the very first) articles on how and why CEOs should be social citizens at the start of their tenures and not wait til their seasons come to an end. There are some great examples from CEOs and presidents of companies such as Aetna, Etsy, GM, MassMutual, Best Buy and BAE.