What’s your most valuable asset? It’s a question I often ask the leaders I advise. Answers tend to be ‘my employees’ or ‘my products’ but more often than not, the answer is ‘my reputation’.
Recently, The World Economic Forum published a report which estimates that a quarter of a company’s value is its reputation. I’ve been in the reputation management business for a long time. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling people about the value and importance of protecting and building their reputation. Generally, my preaching has been in vain because the next time I hear from them is when they’re dealing with a crisis!
In today’s world, reputation risk is everywhere. From cyber attacks and data breaches to media scrutiny and investor revolt, it's unavoidable. So why aren’t more leaders taking control of their reputations?
In my opinion the answer is twofold. Firstly, most individuals don’t think they’re ever going to find themselves in a reputation crisis. They might be right. But there’s an old age adage which says ignorance is bliss. I believe this is the case for many.
Secondly, people are just too busy. Too busy to stop and think about how they’re perceived. Too busy to think about what they want to be known for. Too busy to realise that every single day, their communications and actions are shaping their reputations.
At The Leadership Agency, I help leaders take control of their reputation. I encourage them to stop, look and listen. I ask them to stop burying their heads in the sand, recognise their reputation risks and make sure they’re ‘media ready’ in the event of a crisis. I ask them to look at themselves, their style of communication and how they engage with people. I then ask them to listen. Listen to the advice they're given to help them protect and enhance their reputations today, tomorrow and in the future.
Control freak? Me? Never.