Bulls and Bears: Flight Or Fight?

03 February 2016

With stock markets mauled, global growth slowing, commodity prices tumbling and wars proliferating, it appears that the bear has replaced the bull in the economic china shop.

So, as your organisation draws in its horns, reduces exposure and cuts costs, is that a good time to park your reputation strategy? That would allow you to avoid devoting contact time to thinking, paying for external advice and investing in prophylactic insurance. These are overheads you could do without until the uplands are bathed in sunlight again, right? 

That would be a bad conclusion. The reality is that, whether you’re riding a rampant bull or facing the marauding bear, reputation should be at the top of any leader’s agenda all of the time.

The confident and the uncertain times are equally risky when it comes to reputation, for two reasons. First, the threats are ever-present: if you have critics in the good times, they don’t take leave during the bad. They just smell weakness, and gather ammunition differently. Second, the risks also gather continually, again in both good and bad times. In times of growth and optimism, your reputation risks may be caused by rapid expansion, the greater scrutiny that accompanies success, or perhaps hubris. In the more pessimistic periods, almost the same risks can come from job cuts and poor morale, cancelled data security projects, reductions in external assistance and a focus on the short-term at the expense of the long view.     

The answer is to continue to focus on the proven links between reputation and value, even more so when you have a lot on your plate. A strong reputation – and the trust that it implies – nourishes an organisation and propels it through the fallow periods. However stressful the situation, and whatever our reaction to it, it’s good when others say about us what we like to hear. And it is quite possible – with a calm head and a little preparation – to influence that outcome. We can face horns and claws with equal confidence if we know that our reputations, on which value and capability are built, are always receiving careful, deliberate and expert attention.

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About the Author

Tim Robinson

Partner

Formerly a Major General in the British Army, Tim Robinson CBE helps clients to protect their reputations and privacy from the wide range of threats they face.

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