June 2014

Making CEOs on Twitter a Reputation Asset Not a Liability

Making CEOs on Twitter a Reputation Asset Not a Liability

Daily conversations are taking place across the world between CEOs and their Chief Communications Officers that go something along the lines of:

CEO – “I understand I have to be on twitter and social media but...”

CCO – “Let’s write you a strategy and a programme to give you some structure”

The contemporary CEO understands the professional expectation of their role is to be accessible, available and responsive using the medium of social media and yet (as of August 2013) 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs still had no social media profile.  (Here’s a list of those currently on Twitter)

This reluctance to get started may be because of high profile #fails by the likes of Kenneth Cole, JP Morgan’s Vice Chair Jimmy Lee and Michael O’Leary.

The reality of being so exposed can be daunting. It is not a task that can be delegated to a communications professional, but one that should firmly stay on their own desk.

While they understand that social media is an imperative part of visible leadership, many CEOs are comfortable with the traditional way of leading; through board meetings, management teams and strategies.  

Taking big decisions, issuing annual results are all decisions often made behind closed doors and where the implications reveal themselves over time. 

With social media the reputation of their business and of themselves is immediate and exposed. 

Welcome to ‘Reputation Leadership’.

The need now is for leaders to be seen to be living and leading the values of their organisation. Stakeholders, from investors to customers, media to regulators, expect to be able to turn to social media to get a flavour of their leadership style, their thoughts, reactions and even sense of humour.

This new class of reputation leadership demands that the personal and professional values of the CEO are totally aligned, that they are able to act, behave and communicate in a way that is unique to their character, to display humility and compassion and, at the very minimum, that they can be trusted not to put the organisation’s reputation (and share price) at risk.

An annual programme of blogs and a monthly topic suggestion for a tweet, simply doesn’t cut it. 

This is something that has to come directly and deeply from the individual CEO. No amount of communications counsel can ‘teach’ the CEO to simply ‘be themselves’.

So how does the contemporary Chief Communications Officer get their CEO comfortable with social media? The answer is to take a coaching approach, enabling them to find their own comfort in this new area.

Confidence in their character

Open and honest in tone

Acknowledgement for self and others

Consistency in behaviour

Humility, lots of it

Our RepCoach programme coaches CEOs and senior management to be comfortable in social media and so to uphold, strengthen and protect the asset that is the reputation of themselves and their organisation

Get in touch to find out more.