How Does Your CEO’s Personal Mishaps Effect Your Company’s Reputation?
CEOs, Corporate Reputation, Trust, Crisis. Each is intertwined and has its own role in the success of any company or brand. When your CEO behaves badly in his own time, how does that affect your company’s reputation? Does it require crisis management? Attorney Michael W. Peregrine, in a NY Times post, says yes, and it is the board’s responsibility to hold their leadership responsible for their actions, even if the bad behavior happens off the clock.
Peregrine uses former Best Buy CEO, Brian Dunn, as an example. The firm’s board is currently investigating Dunn’s alleged ‘misuse of company funds related to an inappropriate personal relationship with a female employee. Other examples include: Highmark's board dismissing its chief, Kenneth Milani, after he was charged with assault and trespassing; University of Arkansas dismissing football coach, Bobby Petrino, over an inappropriate personal relationship with a female athletic department employee.
“CEOs behaving badly” falls into the category of crises in which the reputation of a company or brand is at stake from criminal or civil charges, allegations of negligence or wrong-doing, social media rumors, or innuendo. At CommCore we recommend that any company’s leadership develop its own version of our Reputation Protection Model, or RPM©. It’s a methodology that goes beyond preparation and response; it adds a lens that views crisis preparation as an investment in an organization’s long term reputation in the eyes of its most important stakeholders. When company leadership displays questionable behavior, there’s a set plan of action in reviewing and assessing the next steps.
Utilize the Mirror Principle, which states that an organization must hold up the looking glass to its own issues and culture.
Bottom line: learn lessons from others, use the current bumper crop of unfortunate events to compare risks, and honestly assess your own.