March 2015

Leadership And Reputation. The Need For Leaders To Recognise The Link

No need to look far for leaders whose personal reputation is at stake. The leader of the Green Party giving a media interview to launch the party’s policies, the chief executive and chair of HSBC, the newly appointed chief executive of Morrison’s, the government commissioners of Rotherham Council or MPs facing cash for access allegations.

Reference will be made over the forthcoming months to their previous or expected ‘leadership’ strength, style and ability.

Their leadership and experience to date will have seen them take time to understand ‘their leader within’. To know who they are, what they stand for and to remain true to that at all times and in all environments; it is a good start.

The ability to flex their leadership style among others, while acknowledging and appreciating the style of others is a skill at which they will be well-practiced.

And many leaders are content to stop there.  

Fatal.

It is no longer just leadership that should be of concern, the high profile leader can no longer rely on the quality of their leadership to determine the length of their tenure.

Instead, it is the task of the modern leader to understand the link between their leadership and their reputation, it is the only way to secure long term success.

Things have changed. Survival and performance in this connected world goes way beyond knowing who you are and what you are about, it is now about the ability to be agile in its  impact.  

Personal reputation, first and foremost takes the recognition that their reputation is not the property of the leader but instead belongs to others, the collective perceptions and beliefs that others have about them.  Not owned, it cannot be managed, merely mainatained, influenced and changed and only through that person’s actions and behaviours.

The personal reputation of any leader, can only be strong if they are true to themselves, it can only be sustained when they are fully able to flex what they stand for in the context of the ever-changing perceptions about them that others hold.

That means the ability to listen, sense, appreciate, acknowledge and accept the views of others at all times and in all situations.  To understand how and when those perceptions change and what is driving them to do so. 

Sadly, these can often be missed due to comfortable leaders displaying apathy, arrogance, accidental ignorance or simply role fatigue. Reputation is at serious risk and so is their role.