ASIA-PACIFIC - In a global study on the importance of the CEO’s reputation, Weber Shandwick found that that developing countries, on average, tend to attribute a greater percentage of a company’s market value to the CEO’s reputation than developed nations.
Leading the list are respondents from Indonesia, who report that 68 percent of market value is attributable to the good name of a company's leader. Next highest is Turkey with 60 percent, Malaysia at 59 percent and Brazil at 55 percent. This contrasts with the UK, the lowest globally at 25 percent, Japan at 28 percent and the US at 38 percent. As a benchmark, the global average was 44 percent.
Outliers to this general observation includes Hong Kong, which values a corporate leader’s reputation at 51 percent of the company’s market value and Norway, which also places a high premium on reputation at 48 percent.
Conducted with KRC Research, The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era, is based on an online survey of more than 1,700 senior executives across 19 countries in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Asia Pacific markets included Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
The same study found that, on average, global executives attributed nearly half (45 percent) of their company’s reputation to the reputation of their CEO with 50 percent expecting this number to rise over the next few years. Indonesian and Chinese respondents are particularly optimistic that CEO reputation will rise in importance over the next few years (87 percent and 79 percent, respectively). Furthermore, more than three-quarters (77 percent) believe that the CEO’s reputation attracts and retains (70 percent) employees.
"CEO engagement has become an important driver of company value," said Tyler Kim, Weber Shandwick’s head of corporate and crisis, Asia Pacific. "Our research shows that there is a new breed of CEOs who not only recognise this, but are embracing opportunities to tell their companies’ narratives and engage in new ways with audiences inside and outside their organisations."
One factor that truly contributes towards building a corporate head’s credibility in the marketplace is humility, according to the study. Executives with highly regarded CEOs were nearly six times as likely as those with less highly-regarded CEOs to describe their bosses as humble (34 percent vs. 6 percent, respectively).
"Humility is now the new 'green' among chief executives," reported Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist. This marks a shift from the era where CEO visibility was equated with CEO celebrity, she added. "Today, it is not about CEO celebrity, but CEO credibility that can be built through multiple channels that add value inside and outside the organisation. Today, CEO visibility means having a greater presence with greater purpose, and in more ways than one."
Another factor that contributes toward a strong CEO reputation is external relations, found the report. Admired CEOs are four times more likely to be perceived as being good with engaging the public than those with a less admired status (50 percent versus 13 percent, respectively).
The preferred platform? Speaking engagements. More than eight in 10 global executives surveyed consider speaking engagements to be the best method for engaging with external stakeholders. But this is closely followed by being accessible to the media (71 percent), being visible on the company’s website, sharing new insights with the public and being active in the local community. Comparatively low on the list was participating on social media (43 percent) and publicly taking positions on policy and political issues.
Regionally, North American executives are significantly more likely than those in other regions to say that their CEOs are comfortable talking to the news media. But the rest of the world is catching up. About half of Asia-Pacific and Latin American executives (49 percent in each) and 41 percent of European executives report that their CEOs are more willing to talk with the news media today than they were several years ago.
"Given the pervasive nature of the Internet and social media, there is no longer a clear line between internal and external CEO communications," said Ian Rumsby, chief strategy officer, Asia-Pacific. "This is why CEOs and their teams must build integrated engagement plans that recognise that we are all now public figures."
Read PRWeek Asia's feature on why shy Asian CEOs are increasingly stepping into the limelight
The CEO’s 12-Step Guide to Reputation and Engagement
Weber Shandwick recommends that business leaders and their companies consider the following strategies to bolster CEO engagement.
- Assess the CEO’s reputation premium
- Develop the CEO’s "equity" statement
- Identify and develop the CEO’s story on behalf of the company
- Be an industry champion by having a visible and involved industry presence
- Leverage the senior management team, in addition to the CEO
- Bulk up on media training
- Carefully evaluate the CEO’s stance on public policy
- Decide which venue is right for the CEO
- Develop a solid social media strategy
- Keep reputation drivers at the top of the to-do list
- Bolster CEO reputation among employees
- Don’t view CEO humility as a weakness