Q&A: Visible leadership boosts financial performance

Sam Patchett, Client Director at Profile, discusses the agency's latest research, which shows that consumers prefer to buy from businesses with visible, recognisable leadership teams.

Sam Patchett

Profile recently commissioned new research that showed that consumers trusted brands with visible leadership teams more than those without, and preferred to buy from companies with visible leaders.

In this interview, we sat down with Sam Patchett, Client Director at Profile, to discuss the research results, its implications for companies and brands, and his practical recommendations for businesses.

What was your headline takeaway from this research?

"The research results show that strong, visible leadership can manifest itself in all sorts of different ways.

"Often a leader’s top priority is establishing credibility amongst business peers and stakeholders, such as investors, but this research suggests visible leadership can have far more tangible, commercial benefits as well."

Why do you think consumers trust companies with visible leaders more?

"Because people can relate, at a deeply human level, to a face and voice they know. It’s no surprise that most of the world’s most trusted brands such as Microsoft, PayPal, and Nike are led by or were founded by some of the world’s most recognised and highly respected figureheads.

"This is only going to become increasingly important in the age of big data and AI, and companies are going to have to work harder and do more to earn the confidence of consumers and the wider public.

Consumers said that they would prefer to buy from companies with visible leaders. What do you think motivates this sentiment?

"To put it simply – trust and confidence translates into spending habits.

"It’s not always a case of consumers looking to get more bang for their buck – we have a deeply personal relationship with our money and buying decisions can be influenced by a range of factors."

Do you think a sufficient number of companies are aware of the importance of visible leadership?

"It varies greatly from company to company, but I think the most important thing to consider is what kind of visibility companies leadership teams are looking for.

"There’s a big difference between fame and credibility – and making noise for the sake of noise can be counter-productive. Leaders must ensure they’re building their profile in a strategic, purpose-driven way that puts their best foot forward.

"This is particularly poignant in today’s over-crowded public conversations – you need to say something that is truly going to cut through and resonate with audiences."

If you were to give a leadership team one piece of practical, hands-on advice based on this research, what would it be?

"You’re only going to become visible if you say something that’s different or interesting. Avoid paying lip service to keep the masses happy and steer away from predictable corporate or overly-commercial messaging – because no one will listen.

"Instead, leadership teams should challenge themselves to raise some eyebrows and challenge conventional wisdom."

Profile is an award-winning thought leadership agency. We create visible leaders. If you would like to discuss building the profile of your leadership team, book in a no-obligation strategy call.

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