In new era, CEOs must en­gage to be heard

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHARLES SHEN

As we en­ter the new “en­gage­ment era,” the spot­light shines on cor­po­rate CEOs and their ex­ec­u­tive benches. Hav­ing had the op­por­tu­nity to work with lead­er­ship teams through­out my ca­reer, it is ob­vi­ous that a new gen­er­a­tion of CEOs is now emerg­ing. Th­ese CEOs are com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a world of so­cial me­dia, TV and on­line chan­nels, as well as ac­tivist em­ploy­ees and a clear-as­day recog­ni­tion that ev­ery­thing in­ter­nal is, in fact, ex­ter­nal.

And in the midst of all this change, at­ten­tion spans are ever di­min­ish­ing. Re­search has shown that when we read on­line we skim, skip words, jump around, read in chunks, speedread, and mul­ti­task. A com­pany and its CEO now has a far harder time mak­ing them­selves heard.

With th­ese shifts in mind, it is time CEOs and cor­po­ra­tions learn how things have changed in this brave new world of build­ing CEO rep­u­ta­tions. With our re­search part­ner, KRC Re­search, We­ber Shand­wick sur­veyed more than 1,700 se­nior ex­ec­u­tives in 19 mar­kets with a sam­ple of 100 se­nior ex­ec­u­tives in China. Here are seven to China:

• CEO rep­u­ta­tion mat­ters, and mat­ters a lot. Ac­cord­ing to the re­search, 48 per­cent of ex­ec­u­tives be­lieve that a com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion in China is at­trib­uted to its CEO’s rep­u­ta­tion. Forty-five per­cent of a com­pany’s mar­ket value is at­trib­uted to its CEO’s rep­u­ta­tion, and about eight in 10 Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives (79 per­cent) ex­pect CEO rep­u­ta­tion to mat­ter even more to com­pany rep­u­ta­tion in the next few years.

• Public en­gage­ment is now im­per­a­tive. Ninety-two per­cent of Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives re­port that it is im­por­tant for a CEO to have a vis­i­ble public pro­file for his or her com­pany to be highly

find­ings spe­cific re­garded.

• The hum­ble, en­gaged CEO is the new “it” CEO. Global me­dia cov­er­age alone in­di­cates that last year was a ban­ner year for CEO hu­mil­ity. Build­ing CEO rep­u­ta­tion is no longer about celebrity, it is all about cred­i­bil­ity.

• CEOs should take part in ac­tiv­i­ties to stand out. The high­est rated ac­tiv­ity was speak­ing at events — 76 per­cent of Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives iden­ti­fied this as one of the most im­por­tant ex­ter­nal visibility ac­tiv­ity of CEOs. The sec­ond high­es­trank­ing ex­ter­nal ac­tiv­ity, at 73 per­cent, was “shar­ing new in­sights and trends with the public”. Be­ing a thought leader nowa­days in­cludes shar­ing in­sights and be­ing ac­tive and en­gaged with the on­line com­mu­nity.

• So­cial CEOs come with benefits. CEOs are not as unso­cial as they used to be, not by a long shot. Nearly nine in 10 Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives in our study be­lieve that a CEO has to have a pres­ence on the In­ter­net for his or her com­pany to have a pos­i­tive rep­u­ta­tion. That doesn’t mean that a so­cial net­work pro­file is manda­tory. A CEO has many ways of en­gag­ing on­line, from videos on the cor­po­rate video chan­nel to post­ing mes­sages on the com­pany web­site.

• CEOs: Pro­ceed with cau­tion when tak­ing a public stand on pol­icy or po­lit­i­cal is­sues. While the re­search found that CEOs and ex­ec­u­tives are en­cour­aged to ad­vo­cate on be­half of civic, cit­i­zen­ship and com­mu­nity is­sues (70 per­cent of ex­ec­u­tives be­lieve it is im­por­tant for CEOs to be ac­tive in lo­cal com­mu­nity and 68 per­cent be­lieve it is im­por­tant for CEOs to take po­si­tions on is­sues that af­fect so­ci­ety at large), there is less con­sen­sus around en­gag­ing in pol­icy or po­lit­i­cal ones Less than half of ex­ec­u­tives in China (48 per­cent) say it is im­por­tant for CEOs to tak­ing public po­si­tions on pol­icy or po­lit­i­cal is­sues.

• Rep­u­ta­tion is gen­derblind in Asia-Pa­cific. We asked ex­ec­u­tives with male and fe­male CEOs about the strength of their com­pany and CEO rep­u­ta­tions, and their CEO’s con­tri­bu­tion to mar­ket value. We en­coun­tered no real dif­fer­ences. But on an­other ques­tion we asked — whether peo­ple would want to be CEO one day — male ex­ec­u­tives in APAC were sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to say yes than fe­male ex­ec­u­tives.

In closing, keep­ing a very low ex­ec­u­tive pro­file is no longer an op­tion. Although there are risks that come with public pres­ence, it’s ad­van­ta­geous to take con­trol, strate­gi­cally and se­lec­tively en­gage, and stand up to stand out. The au­thor is ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent of cor­po­rate and public af­fairs at We­ber Shand­wick China.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.