ITL #515 Sustainability and reputation: strategies for a better world6 months, 2 weeks ago
Thought leaders are mainly made through strategic choices, extensive research and careful planning. By Eva Torra.
You need guts to become a thought leader. It is all about how you are seen and heard – how you talk and what emotions and actions you invite. In addition, it is about the content, your key messaging and the authenticity of your social conscience. According to HBR Trends 2023, 75% of the workforce expect their employers to take part in societal and political discussions.
Tall order, are you prepared?
Companies and leaders do not exist in a vacuum but are part of society and an ecosystem. As the challenges of 2023 and beyond are sizeable, it is evident that sustainability must be at the core of business strategies and thus in communications strategies. According to a study by Weber Shandwick, one of the leading PR companies in the world, your future depends on your reputation. It is 63% of your market value.
In the modern world with complex challenges, it is sustainability that builds your reputation.
Sustainable strategies are all about authenticity and transparency, genuine understanding of the current situation and of the needs of the ecosystem. Gone are the days of high hierarchies and autocracy, the vision of a Better World has become a hygiene factor.
Leadership is not a title
Leadership is a service job. All great leaders serve their people or a greater cause. According to Future Radar of Nordic Business Forum 2022, leadership is and will be in crisis until 2040. All egos will be stripped and holacracy will take over.
There is a call for new leadership conscience. A call for improved business thinking – leadership thinking that embraces strategies that will bring about a Better World. There is a call for new and improved business metrics and metrics for wellbeing on a macroeconomic level.
Neste, a Finnish company, is a great example of such thinking. Ranked among the world’s Top 5 sustainable companies in 2021, it started the transformation for renewable energy in 2007. In 2015 when the Neste Oil name was changed to simply Neste, the letters O – I – L in the logo on top of its headquarters building were brought down one by one. Then the Managing Director reorganized the letters into a new order I – L – O (ilo – meaning Joy in Finnish).
From oil to joy. How about that for a message?
The younger your audience or your staff, the greater the expectations of contributing to the societal issues are.
Understand your audience
A general rule in nature is: differentiate or die. This goes for us humans as well. If your desired audience doesn’t hear or see you and doesn’t connect with you, you will be alone. All communication needs a clear strategy, a stellar plan and lots of confidence – an attitude and a passion to contribute.
The Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, has become a thought leader for her million followers. Being a young female leader automatically raised media interest, but increasingly the rise has been about her assertive communication style, her maverick image and the straightforward messaging about how Europe should stand by Ukraine. It seems she has captured the hearts and minds of her audience and the sign of times.
Her argumentation and her dress choices have disrupted the conservative consensus in traditional political argumentation and style. From mute to vocal. How about that for a message?
How to find your mojo?
There is no doubt. Make no mistake about it. Thought leaders are mainly made through strategic choices and extensive research and careful planning.
By recognizing the sign of the times you can tap the pulse of the people and media. By bringing hope and oozing confidence you will be both interesting and appealing. Remember, that honey attracts more bees than vinegar.
Work with the following:
- Make your strategic choices. Think for future generations.
- Be brave and be prepared for criticism – it will come. Stay positive.
- Align all touchpoints.
- Be consistent and communicate. Face the music.
- Learn and repeat.
Eva Torra, partner in Helsinki based communications agency Ahjo Communications, has extensive experience in human behavior and impactful communications. She coaches companies and leaders to embrace thought leadership. Ahjo is an Affiliate to Weber Shandwick.mail the author
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