A mean-spirited joke usually reserved for the often scorned legal profession has made its way into the executive suite. Only 14% of executives surveyed say that CEOs have good reputations. At the same time, nearly half of these guys aspire to be CEOs one day! Sounds like mutiny to me.
In fact, according to the same study, these execs probably hope to be in charge in about …. say … three and a half years because that’s how long they say it’s going to take for the overall reputation of CEOs to improve.
Just for kicks, let’s play with this information and pull together a plan that our ambitious exec might use to conquer the CEO suite and its sagging reputation.
- Find some truth tellers. The first thing every CEO must realize is that everyone is lying to him (her too). It just happens. They didn’t coin the phrase “shoot the messenger” for no reason. There are many wonderful organizations out there for CEOs that provide truth-telling services. Vistage is an international group whose tag line is something like “Have your answers questioned.” It’s pretty clear that their ideal customer is the CEO who recognizes that even people who are closest to them might shield them from important information and feedback.
- Openly share your deepest desires. Them’s some touchy feely words for a CEO. But logic isn’t going to be as powerful a motivator as it used to be. Today’s employee and customer both demand an unprecedented openness and humanness from their companies and their leaders. Technology is going to take care of the basics around your product and service, the only thing that can set you apart is the experience you create for the people that give you their time or their money. One of my absolute favorite examples of this in action is Craig Kramers, author of “CEOTools.” His one-page strategy and plan templates will help you verbalize and communicate goals and the incentives to achieve them.
- Develop a digital open-door Policy. An UberCEO study said that only two Fortune 100 CEOs have Twitter accounts, none have personal blogs, 13 have LinkedIn profiles and 19 have a Facebook page. Even more shocking to me was the study’s conclusion that this behavior was evidence of a “miserable level of engagement from CEO’s who appear to be disconnected from the way their own customers are communicating” and are “giving the impression that they’re disconnected, disengaged and disinterested.” Most CEOs pride themselves on having an open-door policy. But they haven’t quite applied that same philosophy to today’s cyber-office. If you’re a fan of the open-door policy, then you can’t afford NOT to have an office in social cyber-space.
So let’s try this again. What do you call 100 CEOs who have followed these three simple steps to rebuilding their reputation? A good start.
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About the Author: Ivana Taylor has spent over 20 years helping industrial organizations and small business owners get and keep their ideal customers. Her company is Third Force and she writes a blog called Strategy Stew. She is co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers.”