[AFR] It’s not who you know, it’s how they know you that helps you get ahead

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As part of my role helping chief executives and non-executive directors build trust and profile, I often interview members of their inner circle to obtain feedback that may help develop their skills or step up to the next role.

From the hundreds of interviews I’ve completed, I’ve found some tell-tale signs that indicate when an individual sees themselves very differently from their peers and colleagues.

This perception gap can potentially have a significant impact on their career.

Read the full article on The Australian Financial Review


[AFR] The truth about the CEO and directors’ club

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I’ve built a job for myself working with CEOs and non-executive directors, helping them to build trust and profile. It’s fascinating work that very often leads to discussions about career goals and frustrations. On occasions we talk about what’s going well. But most of the time we talk about what’s not working.

Of these conversations, one of the most frequent is when my client confides that they’re not “in the club”. This conversation happens with surprising regularity. It comes from people young and old, senior and junior, male and female. It is truly equal opportunity paranoia.

Read the full article at The Australian Financial Review


CEO trust and profile audit: Rod Drury, Xero

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Rod Drury is the founder and CEO of the small business accounting software Xero, one of the largest software companies to come out of New Zealand.

In the following presentation, Thought Leadership Partners analysed Rod’s profile as a CEO and looked at the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for Rod to build profile and trust at scale:

Like many founder/CEOs, Rod’s preference for thinking and reasoning from first principles can occasionally get in the way of the message. As a result, there are opportunities to incorporate more examples and stories to support Rod’s messaging.

Rod’s language choices are generally well balanced- with a preference to simple conversational copy.

One red flag is Rod’s language and tone can vary slightly from piece to piece. Combined with the lack of story-based personal evidence, readers may question whether written content is authentically Rod.

Rod’s CEO scorecard

Interest benchmark: 82%

Trust benchmark: 63%

Visibility benchmark: 58%


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Our recommendations for Rod:

  1. Rod is a strong communicator (but could benefit from more frequent storytelling)

    1. Rod’s authenticity, directness and strong opinions are a great platform for building interest and trust. Despite being a generally great communicator, there are opportunities for Rod to include more story based content.
  2. The narrative is a key strength for both Rod and Xero

    1. Relative to competitors (and most other similar stage companies) the narrative is a competitive strength for Xero.
    2. Rod has a strong and well balanced CEO narrative that’s told consistently. Regardless of your entry point, it’s easy to understand why Xero exists and how the company will succeed.

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  3. Most of Rod’s current communications target the partner community. There are opportunities to make this content more accessible to other stakeholders.

    1. Similar to most growth-stage CEOs, there’s a reasonably large number of important stakeholder groups right now for Rod and Xero
    2. Most of Rod’s current content appears targeted at the partner community. Small changes to make this content more accessible would open this up to a broader set of stakeholders.


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  4. More focus at the company and society level will improve reach and profile.

    1. Most of Rod’s current content is focused at the product level. Based on the suggested audience prioritisation, we’d recommend that CEO communication from Rod should be allocated in the following themes/proportions: Product/service level 33%, Company level 25%, Industry level 22% and Society level 20%


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  5. It’s important to allow more of Rod’s personality and excitement to surface in his written content.

    1. Compared to his spoken word communications and social media, Rod’s written content can appear muted. Allowing more personality and excitement to surface will improve engagement, authenticity and consistency.


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If you’d like a template of this audit so you can conduct your own, contact us and we’ll send one through.