How good is a bad CEO

Career & Salary

The saying went for a long time: "No press is good press." But today we live in a different time. Everything can and is discussed, judged and, if need be, condemned online. Every CEO, managing director, director or company manager is currently under almost constant observation. If an "unfortunate" statement is made, it can be found quickly on social media channels, on news portals or even in the print media. The result: The reputation of the CEO suffers and with it that of the entire company. High time to look at and manage the CEO's reputation.

But what has changed? The fact is: our society has become a "say society". Increasing socialization on the internet means that people who otherwise don't meet communicate with one another via social media. So if I do not agree with a company, a product, a service or even the statement of a CEO, I can "discuss" it with thousands of other people on social media channels. And meanwhile terrifying everyday life: the more battered the reputation, the faster, the more people will find each other to verbally beat the company or its CEO.

Who is behind the company?

Another fact that has changed over the past few years is its strong personalization. Today you want to know who is behind a company. You want to communicate with people and not neutrally with "the company". Everything becomes more transparent and personal. If a customer is not satisfied today, he can use Google to research specific information. So if someone searches for us, they will not only find our website, but also comments from (hopefully) satisfied customers.

Special platforms such as kununu.com even make it possible to evaluate companies in even more detail. These circumstances cause great difficulties for many companies because they have to completely change their communication (internal and external). And there is no alternative for that! Today no company can afford to forego reputation management in its corporate strategy or not to manage the reputation of its own CEO in a targeted manner.

Effect beats performance

It can be reduced to a simple formula:

Effect + behavior + communication = reputation

Often people still talk about the fact that a CEO should achieve a certain level of performance. Of course, his performance has to be right. But what it is actually about is the effect that he and his behavior have on the company and thus on the customers. If you ask yourself in this context the question: "What are we being trimmed for in training and further education?", The answer is, surprisingly, still: on performance and knowledge! How we present the resulting, hopefully positive effect, but in the best possible way, is usually not subject matter.

Keep an eye on the reputation

Maintaining your reputation is work and has to do with your own behavior and communication. Of course, the communications department can provide targeted support, but the main initiative comes from the CEO himself. In addition, the CEO has to take the point of view of customers and employees again and again and ask himself what expectations they have of him? He also has to "manage" these expectations.

The legitimate question arises: does a CEO have to keep an eye on his image just for the company? No certainly not. He does it for himself too. After all, he takes his reputation with him - in other companies as well as in his private life. Both areas, private as well as business, can no longer be separated today. Especially not when it comes to a person's reputation and reputation. By the way: a bad perception of CEOs is more dangerous for them than a bad performance. According to a study by Roland Berger, a bad effect was the causal reason for a CEO's resignation in 71 percent of the cases and not his performance.

  1. Case 1: Underestimate the importance of the inaugural address
    It is helpful to invite the team to a come together and to officially introduce yourself again. In a short speech you should on the one hand tell something about yourself and your career and on the other hand give an insight into the management style as well as values ​​and goals.
  2. Trap 2: Immediately turn everything upside down
    Because of the high expectations, new managers often lapse into blind actionism. It is better to use the first few weeks for employee appraisals. This gives you an overview of expectations, tasks, cooperation, processes and possible sticking points. Changes should only be initiated with the involvement of the employees after the inventory has been taken.
  3. Trap 3: Let employees use it as an instrument
    When a new manager arrives, employees tend to call them in for unexplained and unsatisfactory issues, so that they can speak out to third parties for these issues. But caution is advised here because often only the subjective perception comes to light. So you shouldn't make promises and make hasty decisions, but first get a comprehensive impression of the status quo and responsibilities.
  4. Trap 4: Form intense friendships with co-workers
    If friendships develop with individual colleagues, one should question what influence the relationship has on day-to-day business in the company and what impression colleagues and superiors get when they find out about the friendship. To protect managers and employees, it therefore makes sense to keep a sufficient distance.
  5. Case 5: Be right and not admit mistakes
    Admitting mistakes and accepting criticism from employees is often interpreted as a weakness in leadership. However, the opposite is true. True size and competence proves who is open to justified criticism and, if necessary, reverses a decision. This is how you gain credibility and trust as a manager.
  6. Trap 6: avoiding conflicts
    Managers in need of harmony are usually also conflict-averse. They secretly hope that problems will solve themselves and often address grievances far too late. Whether it is wrongdoing by employees or conflicts in the team - you should state expectations early on, always give constructive feedback and take corrective action in good time. Clarity in leadership is a key success factor. And clarity and friendliness are not mutually exclusive.
  7. Trap 7: Always have an open door
    A statement like "You can come to me at any time" is fatal. The reason: Unplanned conversations mess up the daily routine and tear managers out of concentration on their respective tasks. In other words: Leading "in between" is not advisable. After coordination, take your undivided time for employee appraisals.
  8. Trap 8: wanting to outperform experts in technical knowledge
    It is a fallacy to believe, as a manager, to have an answer to every technical question or to be able to solve every problem. The specialists are responsible for this, namely the employees with their corresponding specialist knowledge. The superior's job is primarily to perform management and control tasks. Anyone who feels responsible for it as a boss quickly becomes a "senior clerk". Tip: Delegate so that you gain freedom and achieve your goals.

Emotion beats facts

Our values ​​correspond to our convictions. That is what we stand for, that is what we are committed to. Customers, but above all employees, want to know "what" a CEO stands for. They want to know what drives him, what makes him tick and what he works for. Communicating this using a common set of values ​​is rarely promising. Authenticity and integrity are in demand and must also be exemplified and communicated in such a way that they are received in the truest sense of the word.

Reputation management is about making our personal beliefs, attitudes and values ​​tangible. The clearer our environment can orient itself towards us, the more credible, reliable and trustworthy we are, which in turn strengthens our reputation. The fact is: there is no stable, positive reputation without clear, communicated and tangible values. And here, once again, emotions beat pure factual communication. A CEO is a person and not a neutral machine.

Long term beats short term

While an image is a snapshot that people have of a company ("the picture I make for myself") and which can also be built up at short notice through active communication, reputation is the general reputation that the CEO and his company have in their environment. That is, it is the totality of impressions and images, of experiences and relationships. Therefore, one of the biggest mistakes is to believe that short-term actions can "polish up" a CEO's reputation.

Of course everything has an effect, but people tend to forget very quickly. Conversely, once an opinion has been formulated, it takes longer for people to revise it. This effect can be observed above all in the run-up to elections. Many politicians then rely on precisely such short-term measures. Once the person has been chosen, communication and reputation work is usually stopped very quickly. A mistake that very often takes revenge in the next election.

Strategy beats show

CEO reputation is not an ego show, but a strategic factor that needs to be planned. Logically, the personality of the CEO and the personality of the company should first be analyzed in order to create a communication strategy. It should be noted that absolute authenticity is decisive. Anyone who tries to stage a show, relying more on wishful thinking than on authenticity, will quickly notice that the community usually sees through this sooner rather than later and of course presents it accordingly in public.

Return beats investment

Admittedly, a CEO reputation costs time and money. But what if the CEO and / or the whole company suddenly becomes the subject of a shit storm on Facebook? Or a lot smaller: What if someone searches for the CEO's name and reads two very negative comments about the company on Google?

Every potential new customer will then consider very carefully whether he should really still contact the person or the company. By the way, but in times of increasing skills shortages, this is a crucial and important aspect: the CEO's good reputation also has an impact on the recruitment of new employees. A good reputation is therefore worth gold in the truest sense of the word - pardon money.

From the shadows to the light

In SME companies in particular, you can often find owners who were once very good skilled workers. This is of course to be welcomed, because once you have learned everything from scratch, you can often fall back on your experiences. However, the whole thing has a small side effect: skilled workers want to convince with their good work or the good product.

They usually don't put themselves in the spotlight and don't tell any stories about how this product or service came about. But it is precisely these stories that customers want to hear. And if one company doesn't tell that story, others tell it (whether it's true or not). A CEO reputation is therefore always a certain protection against crises.

But as is so often the case in life, before it really hurts, you rarely go to the doctor. And sometimes the only thing that helps is damage limitation. Just in case, we all invest in insurance in other areas. So why not here? Building a positive reputation is not only very helpful in the event of a crisis, but also when no crisis is foreseeable.

Many entrepreneurs think that they are too small for the topic of reputation. SMEs in particular can benefit enormously from the positive reputation of a CEO. A single tweet these days can damage the reputation of a CEO and thus the entire company. That is why it is a strategically vital decision to invest in the reputation of your own CEO and thus of the company. Because only if the reputation of the CEO shines in the long term will corporate capital shine.