By Max Clarke
Rupert Murdoch needs to move quickly to secure his leadership legacy after the News International phone hacking scandal brought the 80-year-old billionaire to the brink of disaster after a lifetime of career success.
Niamh O’Keeffe, who advises CEOs on their leadership legacy, says the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation is now in danger of being remembered mostly as the business leader whose journalists acted criminally in pursuit of stories and who oversaw the demise of Britain’s best selling newspaper. Last week, Murdoch said he was the best person to clean up News Corp and investors agreed with its stock rising by 5% on the same day he made that statement.
Legacy advisor O’Keeffe agrees too, but believes he must now develop a comprehensive legacy strategy that can help rebuild his leadership reputation before he leaves the global stage. In addition to co-operating with authorities and auditing the rest of his organisation to improve standards, one early idea for his legacy strategy is to divert an agreed percentage of revenue from his organisation to help the work of organisations who offer free and confidential help to victims of crime and their families. O’Keeffe, whose company CEOassist.com advises CEOs on their leadership legacies, said:
“While it may be that Rupert Murdoch and his organisation are never trusted by victims of crime again after the scandal surrounding the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone, they should be putting in place a strategy to help them restore their reputation as much as possible while also doing some genuine good in society.
“Another separate component of his legacy strategy could be to decide how to make sure that something like this never happens again in his organisation or any other media organisation. Murdoch can redeem himself by re-setting standards across the entire global industry with the support of his peers. As the “sinner” Murdoch can make a virtue out of his sins to clean up global media standards.
“At the age of 80, Rupert Murdoch needs to act quickly to repair his tarnished reputation and to be seen to have put in place a plan to create a more favourable legacy than the one which he will currently be most remembered for.” O’Keeffe added: “The disaster which has befallen Murdoch and his empire is the latest blow to the reputation of the world’s CEOs after the banking leadership crisis involving characters like RBS’s Fred Goodwin, and the catastrophic environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico exacerbated by the leadership and PR failures of Tony Hayward .
“If our CEOs are to turn around the tarnished reputation they currently have, they need to start planning more meaningful legacies than merely one which is driven by financial performance and personal gain. They should certainly not wait for a crisis such as the one which has engulfed Rupert Murdoch before they put in place their leadership legacy strategy. By then, it may be too late.”
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