CBS News recently published an article entitled “Why you need to perform a reputation audit today.” Here’s my favorite excerpt from that article:
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned in 20 years of consulting is that leaders need to know what others are saying about them, or risk losing their job.”
I couldn’t agree more. Where I do disagree, though, is on the methodology. How many people do you know who will really tell you the unvarnished, un-sugar-coated truth when you ask them?
Your boss? Maybe. Certainly, he may be the most-likely truth-teller. If you’re job is on the line – and you don’t know it – honest feedback at this point depends on the plan … keep you or replace you.
Your peers? Maybe with humor or sarcasm covering over the truth, but it is just very difficult to look someone you work with in the eye and answer very truthfully.
Your employees? At the risk of loosing their jobs or creating an uncomfortable working relationship? My guess is no.
Your spouse? She might be objective, but she also loves you. It’s not always easy to risk telling someone you love the truth knowing you might also wound them.
Your friends? They are probably not objective, nor might they care about what others are saying about you because you’re a fun guy.
Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. If you don’t know the negatives, how can you change or improve? But an objective tool that solicits honest, confidential answers will undoubtedly get you much more valuable information. A reputation audit is indeed powerful … you just need to use the right tool.
3 thoughts on “Your CFO Reputation”
Great points, but what tool(s) do you recommend to do a reputation audit?
Dergel CFO Search & Consulting
Thanks for asking, Samuel.
I use the Reach 360-assessment in my practice. It is web-based so all responses are confidential, it’s short – only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete, has a high completion rate because people find it intriguing, and produces at 30-page (approximately) analysis which is key to leveraging the “knowledge is power” philosophy.
Even with 360’s there can be issues if people are easily ID’d. Often there is some demographic info (level in the org, location) which can give someone away, or there are few enough in the pool (say someone with 3 or 4 direct reports) that they can figure it out.
But you are absolutely correct that it is very difficult to get direct feedback. Some org. cultures may have mechanisms to support this, but they are rare.
Often getting feedback is a matter of reading subtleties, when eye contact is made and when it is not, word choice, small behavioral changes, etc.