Leaders of organizations are role models — either good or bad.
If they cut corners, their people will cut corners. If they wink at bad practices, their managers will wink too. If they verbally abuse colleagues, others will follow their lead. If they focus only on today and ignore tomorrow, associates will do the same.
If they think public relations is some sort of game to “spin” information, they will encourage others to be less than truthful. If they do any or all of these things, they will detract from respect and therefore their ability to lead.
Make sure your personal brand stands for something.
Invest in your brand
A lot of people will tell you that the best investment you’ll ever make is in your children’s education. That’s actually the second best investment. The very best investment is in your personal brand. Do that well, and you’ll have no problem paying for your children’s college tuition.
Your personal brand is all about what you stand for. Ask yourself tough questions, such as the following:
- Do I always make decisions based on what’s best for the company?
- Am I consistent and even-handed?
- Am I clear and direct in interactions with associates?
- Am I fair-minded?
- Do I hold myself to the same high standards I set for others?
- Do I listen well?
- Would I rather be liked or respected?
- Am I a good role model?
The right answers to those questions are where personal brand-building starts. If you really want to lead, take those questions seriously.
Get close to the action
When leaders pay attention to their personal brands, organizations have a much better chance to flourish.
It’s essential to get out of the office and close to the action.
Three things occur the higher you rise. First, you get less on-the-ground information. Second, information can become so filtered that it’s worthless. Third, it’s easy to miss warning signals of trouble ahead.
A linchpin of leadership is to get out of your comfort zone and mix with stakeholders — employees, customers, neighbors. Your business will be more successful if you are as close to stakeholder issues as often as possible. And, that will set a powerful example for your troops.
Davis Young is the principal of DY Author & Speaker LLC and the author of “Trust is the Tiebreaker,” an e-book published by Smart Business Books, currently on Amazon.com. Contact Young at (440) 248-9550 or Dysolon@aol.com.
It’s safe to say that individuals are more likely to do business with organizations they trust. With that in mind, establishing and preserving a good name is critical to the long-term success of any organization.
In my book “Trust Is The Tie-Breaker” I provide checklists, step-by-step instructions and real-world examples organizations need to succeed. Here are the three cornerstones to building a good name for your organization.
Ask tough questions
Reputation building starts with asking tough questions and insisting on truthful answers. Here is a partial list of questions you should be asking:
- Are you getting and keeping the customers you really need?
- Are you able to recruit and retain excellent employees?
- Are you creating important new relationships on a regular basis?
- Is your business growing at the rate it should?
- Do stakeholders know what makes you distinctive?
- Do you really care about stakeholders in ways they understand and appreciate?
- Do you have vulnerabilities that need to be fixed before they blow up into a crisis?
- Do your company’s actions match its words?
- Do you give people reasons to trust?
If a good reputation is on your wish list, ask the tough questions and get the right people in the room to help answer them. Then, implement an improvement agenda.
Focus on the relationships that matter
Every company has 10 or 20 key relationships. It’s never a big number, but it’s the people who can make or break your enterprise. Their impact on your company’s reputation is huge.
Keep them current. Ask for their advice. Track those relationships. Provide lots of TLC along the way. Be upfront with those key relationships when there is a problem or an issue. Never, ever surprise them. Whether the news is good or bad, they need to hear it from you first.
Set the bar high
What goal is higher than wanting to be the organization of choice?
That starts with establishing your organization as distinctive in ways that mean something to your stakeholders.
You can achieve distinctiveness in the workplace when you encourage a culture that values teamwork or which constantly reinforces the expectation of high ethical standards.
You can achieve distinctiveness with customers by constant repetition of actions that place their interests ahead of yours or by services that are truly easy to navigate.
Almost without exception, organizations can identify distinctiveness and those that can’t do so today can identify potential to reach that goal tomorrow.
Define what your organization does really well. Make sure everyone reinforces that distinctiveness in ways that address benefits to others. ●
Davis Young is the principal of DY Author & Speaker LLC and is the author of “Trust is the Tiebreaker,” an e-book published by Smart Business Network, currently on www.amazon.com. Contact Young at (440) 248-9550 or Dysolon@aol.com.
Productive, powerful, lasting relationships are built on trust. Customers, clients, donors and other supporters have the right to make other choices. A stakeholder relationship is never an entitlement. Those relationships must be earned and constantly reinforced.
As you survey ways to grow trust, look at your organization’s public relations and try to remember:
- Trust isn’t about “spinning” information.
- Trust isn’t about short-term thinking.
- Trust isn’t about talking one way and acting another.
- Trust isn’t about trying to fool anybody.
Instead, focus on these four ways that organizations can create and sustain trust:
1. Trust begins when actions are consistent with words.
2. Trust is built when there is a higher motive than simply making money — when organizations embrace the idea that serving the needs of others ultimately serves their needs as well.
3. Trust is built when leaders create a culture that stands for something. It really is true that organizations that don’t stand for something will be seen as standing for nothing.
4. Trust is built when trust building is central to an organization’s priorities.
Building trusts starts in the corner office
The active participation of leaders is essential to achieving good public relations that result in trust. Where that leadership engagement exists, there is an opportunity to integrate communication and relationship building as essential ingredients in accomplishing business goals.
How well issues are thought through and subsequently communicated often means the difference between success and failure. That is why public relations, aka trust building, is indeed a leadership issue.
Important issues demand leadership engagement
Think about these critical issues and their potential impact on your business:
- Siting a new facility
- An increase in offshore manufacturing
- Right-sizing the organization
- Merging cultures
- Reinforcing expectations for
- Adding a new person to your management group
- Strategies to reduce costs
- Plans to grow
The list is virtually endless. Each of those issues impacts one or more stakeholder group and requires both clear thinking and good communication.
Leaders must participate in the public relations strategies to assure those are in lockstep with their vision, goals and business conditions.
It’s all about trust
Trust is the ultimate tiebreaker in decision-making. In fact, trust is a competitive distinction to pursue.
Leaders are well advised to treat trust as their most valuable asset. ●
Davis Young is the principal of DY Author & Speaker LLC and is the author of “Trust is the Tiebreaker,” an ebook published by Smart Business Network, currently available on Amazon.com. Contact Young at (440) 248-9550 or Dysolon@aol.com.