How much is a leader’s personal reputation worth?

What is the value of things said about a person leading a government, a religion, a corporation, an institution, a sports team, when he/she is not present? Is word of mouth worthy of this person’s course? Is it important? Is it becoming more and more valuable in our era, the era of continuous parallel crises, deep fake news and artificial intelligence?

Contemporary leaders seeking timeless hyper value of their reputation, build their personal leadership brand methodically, using expertise. Take for example Richard Branson, whose personal brand is “Be fearless”, Warren Buffet’s “Share your wisdom”, Bill Gates’ “Focus and make an impact”, Condoleezza Rice’s “Do the hard things well”.

In this way, they become successful in three fields: Authenticity, inspiration and effectiveness of their goals and pursuits.

By investing with consistency and method in their authenticity, they are able to differentiate themselves in their audience’s view, they create unique bonds of trust and, at the same time, they achieve major protection against fake and malicious news which overwhelm the internet very easily.

When the reputation of the leader inspires effortlessly and consistently, it builds an incredible force of supporters who are willing not only to follow him/her, faithfully work for him/her, contributing to the realization of his/her vision; they also become his/her protecting shield.

A leader with such a well-built and structured profile has the ability and the access to resources, knowledge, information, opportunities, in order to make the achievement of his/her goals feasible and of high performance.

Pursuing all the above privileges requires a personal leadership brand which has to be unique. Unique not just in a sense that there is no other like it on the globe, but in a sense of personal uniqueness (younique vs unique).

A brand built on the unique complex of the leader’s values, attitudes, habits, presence, and beliefs.  All the above structurally establish credibility, trust and emotional loyalty of all his/her stakeholder audiences.  Through time, this brand is accompanied by an architecturally designed action plan that ensures to the maximum extent that the desired word of mouth will be perpetuated and will evolve as it does in a product love brand.

In the era of continuous parallel crises like, for example, geopolitical tensions and wars, extreme weather events, rapidly increasing environmental pollution, diminishing economic opportunities, fluctuating inflation, violent acts by extremist groups, unstructured population movements, cyber-attacks etc., the love branded leader has prepared him/herself in the best way to cope with any of that. Both for him/herself and his/her prosperity and for all his/her stakeholders: citizens, employees, followers, partners, shareholders, suppliers and, above all, for the wider society in which he/she operates.

Obviously, the leader who has created a solid personal brand, has a clear advantage over his/her competitors in the difficult times ahead.  The inevitable comparison and evaluation that will take place at the word-of-mouth level will end up with him/her as the winner, because the leader of today and tomorrow must, in the minds of the people, at least be prepared.  The excuse of the past, that events were unexpected and unpredictable, has no basis any longer.

Recently, in a working meeting with a global financial and investment industry leader, while we were discussing the way he would transform his vision, about turning some desert areas into arable lands and forests (desert farming), into a business, investment and communication plan, a question was raised:  How can you make such a long-term planning which requires huge funds, knowledge, expertise and scientists, when everything is changing and unpredictably so? What variables is your plan based on and how do you ensure that the current crises and the crises that will come will not affect or cancel your plan?  The answer given was this: My vision is what I would like to happen. The plan is not the vision. That plan consists of many short-term plans.  Instead of following the realization of the mega-plan, we will be following the progress of the short-term plans, the crises we will face and the necessary adjustments we will make.  It is a short-term plan. Fast analyses and flexible changes. Against this seemingly simplistic approach, a reasonable question was raised: How are you going to persuade your shareholders, analysts, markets, stock exchanges, banks, the scientific and academic community, when you will be talking to them about achieving short-term plans, when the market has learned to talk in terms of medium-long-term and long-term plans?  The answer was: It has to do with who is the person who creates the vision, commits himself and leads.  It has to do with his prestige, his history, his credentials, his reputation and his legacy through time.

It is now obvious that the lack of a predetermined desired value or, even better, of a hyper value of a leader, leads to an unfair defeat in the arena of competition and championship.  And, in the end, who wins?  The ones that the interested parties instinctively call genius and crazy.  They are the ones who are intelligent and crazy enough to methodically invest in their reputation and their legacy, based on their authenticity and their unique results.  They are the ones who know that each one of their statements, their appearances, their actions, their decisions, their communications contribute, positively or negatively, to the most current precious value and to the person’s protection: To his/her reputation.

Published on ECONOMIA