By Mark Hutcheon / Category - Reputation capability
What do the following CEOs - Stephen Hester, Tony Hayward and James Murdoch - have in common? Bruises gained from battling to rescue damaged personal and corporate reputations.
Today business leaders serve two masters: profit and reputation. As a result, they are expected to carry out significant reputational as well as commercial duties dedicating more executive time to being an external ambassador for the business than ever before.
The climate in which modern CEOs operate can be both unforgiving and intrusive. At a time when trust in business is historically low, CEOs grapple with 24 hour media spotlight, interventionist governments, impatient consumers and powerfully vocal NGOs. Not to mention customers and shareholders.
That reputation management is now a critical competency for CEOs is best illustrated in McKinsey Global Research
revealing 50% of all CEOs say managing external affairs ranks as one of their top-three priorities. If we expect CEOs to act as chief reputation officers, what are the skills needed to succeed and are these supplied by the traditional business school MBA?
ReputationInc analysed the contents of the FT's Top 50 Business School MBAs
examining whether they teach managers the skills essential to managing corporate reputation.
The results, to be revealed next week at an event in London
, show a gaping hole in the international MBA Curriculum as only 4% teach a dedicated reputation module. Join me in concluding that the MBA as it stands is failing to equip business leaders with the competencies to succeed in the 'reputation economy.'
Whether they invite it or not, CEOs and business leaders are a proxy or a symbol of the businesses they lead. While the era of the celebrity CEO may have gone with the departure of Steve Jobs
, business leaders must still be on message, on values and continually performing to survive the pressurised demands put on them by today's world. Charlie Mayfield, CEO of John Lewis revealed he committed 30% of his weekly diary to communications, engagement and representing the brand.
Natural gifts as a communicator and leader cannot be taken for granted in business leaders and even then should be complemented with skills in storytelling, understanding public opinion and political engagement.
The top executive must set the tone and mood of the corporation he leads and continually look for ways to reveal the personality of the company or band and its value to society. CEOs are not born ready to meet this challenge and will benefit from coaching and role play in managing the crown jewel asset of reputation, something today's MBA courses are failing to provide.
Legendary investor Warren Buffett said "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
Business leaders are starting to get this irrefutably logic, business schools remain some way behind.