2010 — The Building of Business’ Reputation

January 09, 2010

2010 — The Building of Business’ Reputation

  The holidays are over and work is back on my mind full-time. Actually it felt great getting back into the rhythm of work. Thankfully I work at a wonderfully-led, collaborative company. I do not take it for granted, believe me.
By the way, before I get going with this post,  I should mention that I have an article on Huffington Post titled “Do Companies Care about Ordinary People?” You are welcome to read it.

Over the holiday, I saved some articles that are worth sharing as this new decade begins and 2010 is in its infancy. The first one in my pile is from the Economist. With all the doom and gloom about business greed and corporate no-no’s in the past decade, The Economist identifies several arguments in the defense of business’s reputation. Resetting the reputation of business seems to be an apt activity to start off this new year. For sure, business could use some reputation-building to replace the reputation-bashing we’ve all been witness too. Here are two to mull over:

1. Business “is a remarkable exercise in co-operation.” Businesses manage to get thousands, hundreds and tens of people working together to produce ideas and solutions to problems. The fact that people collaborate for the common good is pretty remarkable when you think of it. I work with my colleagues around the world all the time and some of us have never met. But we all come together to build the Weber Shandwick brand and help clients.

2. Business is “an exercise in creativity.” When business people put their heads together to solve a problem, we can invent the most amazing things such as “devices that can provide insulin to diabetics without painful injections” and One Laptop Per Child.

I might add one more.

3. Business is “an exercise in sense-making.” When I close my book ,CEO Capital, I have a plea for CEOs to infuse companies with meaning. I said and I repeat here, “…it remains a basic human need to be part of something larger than oneself. This essential yearning has not disappeared despite networked computers and the triumph of the Internet.” I urged CEOs to motivate employees and instill companies with a common purpose in the pursuit of worthwhile goals. As Max DePree, legendary leader of Herman Miller wrote, “Leaders owe a covenant to the corporation or institution, which is after all, a group of people. Leaders owe the organization a new reference point for what caring, purposeful, committed people can be in the institutional setting.”

With luck, committed leadership and an improving unemployment rate, business might be able to improve its reputation in 2010 (2011?). I am banking on it.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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