An executive in the c-series can reek more havoc than good simply through the ignorance of digital communication and understanding the ramifications of their everyday actions. By this we mean social media, blogs, forums and even public legal records.

Domination, racism, discrimination, covert tactics to subdue employees, bad manners and just plain old bad management procedures can result in the destruction of a company or brand just through digital communication.

How to create a balance

Executive reputation management becomes difficult when the “fever” for business growth is the only focus. It is hard, even painful, to tell the CEO or Founder of a business to “watch his actions”. Some executive’s will tell you that they don’t care about other peoples feelings or reactions to their everyday activities. And in many cases, this may be the most effective attitude to grow a business.

The fact is, if your human resources department is weak, you will get those employees who are there to just cash in their pay check or, out of boredom or stupidity, cause trouble. With weak employees an executive opens the door to many problems including abused sick days, problem makers, “welfare types” and the easily-hurt who are just looking for a reason to sue. Here is where we get to a primary source of brand reputation destruction.

Most of this just requires good prediction, as covered in an article a few weeks ago.

The solution here is to simply:

  • Maintain a strong work ethic
  • Don’t “cross the line” (use logic) when dealing with staff.
  • Treat vendors with respect
  • View your clients as VIPs

You are being watched

The quiet employee in the cubicle may seem docile and harmless or, as in some scenarios, a good target to vent managerial stress. In the 1980s and early 90s it would have been easier for a manager to get away with lapses in judgement and avoid charges or accusations. However, due to the technology of today backed by the virility of social media, an executive should consider themselves being monitored.

Taking that same “harmless employee” as an example, a single vile comment could mean the end of your career. Case in point, Kieren Allen’s discrimination letter which went viral. Bad practice on the part of the manager resulted in widespread destruction of the manager’s reputation. In this specific case, the discrimination was spread amongst tens of thousands of twitterers. Was this really necessary? I am not here to be the judge of actions, but what I am sure of is you could be the victim of the next viral defamation campaign.

What every executive should think with

  • First and foremost it is important to understand that your actions will carry weight.
  • What is said or done will be reflected against the brand and,
  • The internet gives close to unlimited freedom of speech and this can be used against your or your company.


The purpose of this article is not to scare executives into submission or “fear of being ruthless”. On the contrary, a company will only grow with a strong leader. However, if you keep an eye on your performance in terms of these 4 proactive reputation steps, you will be close to impervious.

  • Maintain a strong work ethic.
  • Don’t “cross the line” (use logic) when dealing with staff.
  • Treat vendors with respect, but demand results.
  • View your clients as VIPs.