About that Reputation

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A new job title is being bantered about. The title is interesting and the concept sounds good. The job is – CHIEF REPUTATION OFFICER. I am intrigued.

Someone needs to be in charge of an organization’s reputation. Sometimes it’s not clear who that might be. Sometimes it is clear that it’s not the CEO. In fact, lately, it seems that some leaders are doing all they can to tear down their personal and organizations reputation.

Like some jobs that are created in a hurry, it is not clear what the Chief Reputation Officer would actually do when he or she shows up in the morning. A staff job with an unclear charter is not a real job, no matter how lofty the title. So for those organizations creating a Reputation Officer role, the following is a quick job description. Feel free to edit and use as appropriate.


Chief Reputation Officer


This is a leadership role designed to ensure that other leaders don’t even think about doing stupid stuff. If stupid stuff happens, the CRO will get involved. He or she will sit at the executive table and ask questions like, “Do we really want to do that?” Instead of pointing to a Values Statement on the wall, the CRO will be the living protector of the values. There will be hell to pay if the values are violated. Why did we spend so much time on creating values if they don’t matter?

Impact on the Business

If the reputation is hurt, the business suffers. (See Uber, The Weinstein Company and others.) If the reputation is enhanced, customer loyalty is enhanced and everyone is happy. (See Apple, BMW.) The fact that there is video everywhere means the CRO can almost always work with data.

Customers / Stakeholders

No one can hide. Everyone is a customer or a stakeholder when it comes to reputation, including the CEO and the maintenance staff.  The CRO should seek opportunities to enhance the reputation and be full of ideas and research.

Leadership & Teamwork

The CRO should have clout and face validity so that everyone in the organization knows that there is a new sheriff in town. Liam Neeson would make an excellent CRO.

Major Challenges

Some people think they won’t get caught and can do any thing they want even if it will hurt the organization’s reputation. Some people don’t understand that inappropriate behavior is not your friend at work (or anywhere). Some people drink too much whenever the alcohol is free, like at company events. Some people think that if the CEO can do that, I can do it too.


A previous leadership roll where you established clarity about “the way things work around here.”

Leadership Capabilities

  • Have an understanding of the difference between good and bad behavior.
  • Be ambitious about high standards
  • Make considered decisions every day.


Maybe the reputation officer is like a priest or a rabbi who makes everyone feel guilty for misbehaving. It doesn’t matter. If the presence of someone who is in charge of reputation will help eliminate boorish behavior and establish a sterling reputation, then it is a job needed in every organization.

A reputation can change in a second based on someone doing something ill advised. And a tarnished reputation takes a long time to fix.

Don’t snicker. It’s about time for that Chief Reputation Officer, and I am all for it.

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