What Does it Take to be a Brand Building CEO?

(This is a guest column written by Ravi Ganti, who is a Director with Aquarius Business Solutions Pvt Ltd,Mumbai. He would like to introduce himself as a laid back, lazy and boring guy who lists the Mahabharat, Hercule Poirot and Eliyahu Goldratt as his constant inspirations.)

Almost all of us are aware of who calls the shots at Microsoft, Apple, Virgin Group, Kingfisher and Pepsi. But most, if not all, would be hard pressed to name the CEOs of Siemens, IBM, Coca Cola, Samsung, Canon, Toyota, Maruti, Ghari Detergent, even TCS. These brands are no smaller than the marquee names that make up the first list but in their case the person has not become bigger than the brand! Maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere! Let us see if we can decipher some of the attributes that go into the making of a Brand Building CEO.

  • The first attribute that comes to mind is – Brand above Self. The CEOs and the executive leadership of long lasting brands recognize that their career success is a result of the brand’s success and not the other way round. The leaders in such organizations go out of the way to subsume their identity within that of the organization.
  • The second attribute is – ‘chest thumping’ Pride in their product / brand / organization. This is invariably seen in the repeated reference to the brand / organization greatness on most occasions of internal interactions.
  • A third common attribute is – Shared Glory. The leaders continuously emphasize the contributions of the team over that of any individual.
  • Ear to the Ground – Brand building leaders tend to spend at least 3-4 days a month with customers and a like amount of time with their operations and development people. This keeps them in sync with changing preferences as well as emerging techniques and technologies.
  • Customer Satisfaction Leads to Stakeholder Satisfaction – Brand builders know that if you have satisfied customers, you are more likely to generate better returns and thus lead to happier stakeholders. Such leaders invariably tend to be process driven.
  • Integrity – Probably the most important and least emphasized of all attributes, personal integrity and ethical behavior contribute more to a brand’s long term success than any other.

To summarize, being Good is as important as being Great!!

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