It was clear from the results that CEOs and boards of directors are feeling pressure from increased stakeholder scrutiny and higher standards. Twenty-two percent of the CEOs surveyed cite "failure to perform to stakeholder expectations" as the current greatest threat to their tenure, compared with just 12 percent in January 2012. Plus, 57 percent say they expect to be driving a change in company strategy this year.
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The other survey finding that struck me was that CEOs are starting to redefine their brands as more fallible and more, well, human. Even though today's chief executives are better informed than ever—they have to be in order to keep on course in this whirlwind environment—they want their employees to understand that they don't have all the answers. They want to dispel the myth that they always have the correct solution to every problem.
Behavior and management experts Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter discuss something similar in their 2011 book, "Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World." Their argument is that by innovating management—making it more human and less mechanical—leaders can become more agile and build real engagement with their workforce, thereby increasing their ability to withstand and manage disruption. Grant and Notter identified the principles that led to the exponential growth of social media and created a 15-minute online assessment that offers leaders an immediate custom analysis of how human their organizations already are.
What's interesting is that the traits that they've identified as crucial for a brand to have in order to be relevant in the 21st century are characteristics that have long seemed more like personal values and virtues.
In other words, it's impossible for a corporation to have these attributes unless the individuals who make up that corporation—especially in senior roles—have and abundantly display those attributes themselves. (Plus, in our connected, transparent world, 45 percent of people surveyed by the authors "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that they are concerned about the lack of social media involvement among leaders at their organization. Clearly, any CEO who wants to enhance his or her personal brand inside or outside the organization would be wise to step up their social media game.)
"The authority of the role of the CEO will always be there," says Dr. Saporito, "but one of the things the CEO can do to relieve that pressure is build senior teams that share some of the responsibility." In other words, the successful CEO brand for 2013 and beyond will be someone who recognizes that business is a team endeavor.
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Marian Salzman is CEO of Havas PR North America. Named one of the world's top five trendspotters, Salzman is best known for launching metrosexual mania in 2003, but she also created several other buzzes, including "the rise of singletons," "It's America Online," Europe's cyberspoon, globesity and "sleep is the new sex." Author or co-author of 15 books, including Next Now and The Future of Men, she currently blogs on the Huffington Post.