“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” – Warren Buffett

In a fiercely competitive playing field – anything could go wrong. From scandals ahead of IPOs to publicly disgruntled stakeholders; corruption allegations to fraud investigations – global firms have to stay ready to stay ahead.

Protecting corporate reputations in the face of crisis and controversy is more critical than ever in today’s perpetually evolving business world. Managing a CEO’s reputation during times of turbulence is perhaps the biggest driver of long-term sustainability, retention of market capitalisation and survival.

But why is CEO reputation management critical to business success? Firstly – let’s address the obvious – the etymology of the term “reputation” derives from the Latin reputationem meaning “credit or consideration.” The stronger a CEO’s reputation, the more credibly a business or venture is externally perceived, thus the more heavily people will invest in it – commercially or emotionally. Investment is key to global growth and solid leadership figures who appear to have a trustworthy character are a strategic asset; think Obama, Gates, Jobs.

Studies from Washington-based firm KRC show that over 81% of CEOs believe proactive CEO engagement is crucial in establishing and maintaining sustainable corporate reputation – particularly at a time of crisis. 45% of these global executives believe that their own CEO’s reputation contributes to nearly half of both their company’s reputation and the company’s market value respectively. This means that the CEO wields unparalleled influence in the complexities of building brand equity.

So, what can a CEO do to manage their reputation and strengthen their business?

  1. Leadership profile: Create a strong external leadership profile outside of your corporate CEO position. Reputational credibility is built through association with other credible entities.
  2. Be accessible and engaging: Across all platforms – particularly online. Have a powerful, unique voice on social platforms to set you apart from competition.
  3. Be seen in the right places: Visibility drives familiarity. The more a CEO is seen for positive purposes: at events, within the media – the greater the level of trust it builds in clients and consumers’ minds.
  4. Define your values: We live in an era of values-driven leadership – where the strongest firms are driven by a CEO’s principles of vision, loyalty, teamwork. Being perceived as a thought-leader drives business success.