Mom Was Right, You Do Have A Halo!

Mom was right, you do have a halo ::  To be clear, this is not a post talking about a religious halo or your spiritual aura – although, that is more than likely what your mom was referring to!!  But for now, what I’m talking about is the halo that your reputation has created around you and the impact it can have on not only your current state, but more importantly your future opportunities.

Why do halos matter, especially now? Simple. Halos work off of the power of association.  Make no mistake, association has power and value.  Social Media channels have created a never-before-seen level of transparency making it incredibly easy for people and brands to better understand with whom they are interested in associating.

I’ve seen the power of this first-hand throughout my career in motorsports.  Our world is all about the association between drivers, teams and brands.  For many years, my sole focus was on how to build positive association between drivers and their sponsors through public relations and marketing programs – building platforms to drive association and connection with fans.  The foundation for these types of partnerships is rooted in authentically aligning brand and values attributes with the athlete, which establishes credibility in the eyes of consumers.

The power of association …

→ 84% of employees would consider leaving their current job if offered a job by a company with an excellent reputation

→ 69% of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation – even if unemployed

→ 100% of your referrals are based on reputation

→ 100% of your employees are your reputation ambassadors

We often see the halo effect at work when it comes to brand and brand ambassador relationships.  If an ambassador acts in a manner that would negatively impact the brand, because of their association, you’ll generally see the brand quickly and publicly distance or disassociate itself because of the unfavorable publicity halo and adverse business impact it would create.  Can you think of any examples of this??  Does Subway and Jared Fogle come to mind? How about Tiger Woods and Gatorade? Do you remember Michael Phelps and Kellogg after the images of Phelps using a bong were released?  Does the name Ryan Lochte ring a bell? Then there is Kate Moss and H&M when she was publicly exposed for using cocaine.  H&M was quick to sever the relationship and issued a short statement related to what kind of person should represent their brand – “If someone is going to be the face of H&M. It is important they be healthy, wholesome and sound.”

In the case of Subway, it’s disassociation with Fogle was quick, to the point and delivered via Social Media channels – “We no longer have a relationship with Jared and have no further comment.”

One of the most iconic examples of corporate partners racing away from an ambassador is Lance Armstrong. Shortly after his admission of doping, bullying and lying, his corporate partners dropped the once legend of bike racing.

The power of the halo is a two-way street, whether it’s an individual, corporation, franchise or a university.  Think of it this way: if you want your company to be known as forward-thinking, technology-savvy and customer-centric, you would hire people who possess the skills and have a reputation halo for those three areas of skillset or mindset.  As a leader, assembling a team that embodies the attributes that you want your organization to have establishes credibility and authenticity and strengthens the organization’s and team members’ collective halos.  If you are a university seeking to be known for diversity, international studies and high academic achievement, then those are the type of student prospects that would more than likely be recruited.  It’s very symbiotic.

Similarly, if you are looking to grow in your career field, you would want to look for opportunities at leading firms in that industry in hopes of its reputation halo shining on you.  But remember, the hiring managers will be doing the same with you.  They will ensure that you would be a positive reflection on the firm.  That is why more than 90% of recruiters will scour a candidate’s Social Media footprint to get a sense of who they really are, how they represent themselves and what their halo looks like – beyond how their resume reads and what their references say.  The unfortunate reality is that more than 30% of those candidates are dropped from the hiring process by what the recruiter finds!

So, what does this mean for business leaders, entrepreneurs or anyone looking to accelerate their career or business?  It simply means that the old adage of who you associate with really matters.

Here are 5 additional thoughts related to halos, reputation and leadership:

Leaders need people in their lives who will tell them what they ‘need’ to hear, not what they ‘want’ to hear
Leaders are neither able to reinforce the good nor identify and fix the bad if they live in a vacuum and don’t know or listen to what is being said about them or their organization
Referrals are a powerful indicator as to the health and value of a leader’s and organization’s reputation
When leading, people watch your feet, not your mouth – actions speak louder than words
What other thoughts do you have about halos? I’d love to hear your thoughts!