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Survey: CEO Reputation Matters. A Lot. Here’s Why.

New research is out on the role of chief executives and company reputation, and the headline is clear: CEOs are the stars of the show.

Weber Shandwick partnered with KRC Research to release “The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era.” The study, which surveyed more than 1,700 leaders, reports that “In an increasingly connected and transparent world, keeping a low profile is no longer an option for business leaders. CEOs have entered a golden age of opportunity in which to tell their company story and join the conversation. This new era is marked by the recognition that CEO engagement is particularly critical to corporate reputation and is facilitated by high demand for content to help grow the business. Today’s CEOs are expected to be seen and heard and to be on the scene internally, externally and virtually. The same goes for top executives in the organization.”

Writes the Business Times of Singapore: “A chief executive officer’s (CEO) reputation continues to be a premium form of currency and wealth in an economy where companies trade on their reputations everyday”

Indeed, the percentage of company value attributed to CEO reputation is significant in all regions globally, ranging from 25 percent in the UK to 68 percent in Indonesia. The data are telling:

  • “81% of global executives believe external CEO engagement is now a mandate for building company reputation.”
  • “Executives understand the benefits that come along with a strong CEO reputation and believe that their own CEO’s reputation contributes to nearly half of both their company’s reputation (45%) and market value (44%).”
  • “Half of executives expect that CEO reputation will matter even more to corporate reputation in the next few years.”

Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist and author of the survey, writes in the Harvard Business Review: “CEOs now generally accept what has long been apparent: like it or not, they are public figures. By virtue of digital communications we all have in some sense or another gone public. It is just that some of us, CEOs in particular, are more public than others. There is no turning back.”

But as important as CEO reputation is, it has to be done the right way. Fortune reports: “Make no mistake: This is not the 1990s, a time when CEOs were celebrated for big salaries and audacious predictions. Being visible in 2015, points out Gaines-Ross, decidedly does not mean being bombastic, overly confident or omnipresent in your company’s advertising; it means being humble.”

Or, as the report states: “Humility is now the new green among chief executives, possibly because they’ve all experienced their 15 minutes of shame in addition to their 15 minutes of fame in this tell-all world.”

The full report can be downloaded here. Weber Shandwick also provides this infographic: