I talk a lot about communication being able to achieve many things. And I believe strategic communication is the cornerstone to great leadership, which means that it’s important to be good at it. As a communicator I am constantly thinking of ways to engage people, leaders to share this and find ways to help people to master it.
I am also convinced that it can shape your level of impact and influence in leadership, work and even life. The main thing is to be aware of what it needs to look like for you and identify where you need to improve.
Anyone looking to engage and connect people, especially within an organisation, to follow your lead or strategic direction, work with changes you’re implementing or build loyalty and advocacy know that they need impact and influence. And I’m saying there’s a link between gaining this through effective communication.
It’s really easy to say that because you already communicate that you don’t need to change, understand more or improve – and that would be fair enough. The thing is we all could use fresh input to consistently move to the next level and be more engaging – whatever that might look like for you. It could be for promotion, getting your people through a difficult patch within the organisation, addressing the culture or keeping talent. The issues we all face currently emphasise the need to be on top of your game, as a leader, and be able to remain there.
With the work I’m doing in this area I created a proposition that explains where I’m coming from:
‘Every leader can become an exceptional communicator. They can develop the confidence to communicate well and in the right way for every situation they find themselves in within the complex sphere of leadership’
This all came about as I supported leaders and managers with communication. I knew what could be achieved but didn’t see it happening. There were levels of success but some were still having issues, and outcomes promised didn’t always materialise. In many of these instances it was the priority or lack thereof placed on communications, the delivery and where the focus was placed. If all that is required or expected is a shiny newsletter or an interactive intranet or a tidied up blog, then although it’s good, the full potential of strategic communication might be missed and not realised.
We must therefore move beyond the tactical and look at the discipline of communication and all that it brings as a core skill for leaders. It’s about all the areas, themes and ideas that sit within that that will enable us to be engaging, dynamic genuine and effective.
There’s a lot more detail behind the work I’ve done and I plan to unpack this further in the weeks and months to come, but to get started, here are a few thoughts on things to consider to take this forward:
- Look to gain clarity and understanding on your purpose and values both in terms of the organisation and personally
- Review the impact and influence you already have and the style of leadership you present right now. Is this working for you in what you need to achieve?
- Be visible – now’s the time to connect and talk to as many of your people as you can. Gain an understanding of those you are connected to and take the time to listen
- Build trust by being open and honest, acting on the things you say you’ll do and be consistent. Develop or re-establish your reputation.
- Lead the way with views on societal and economic issues – understand how it impacts your people and customers etc.
- Ask for help – don’t underestimate the need to connect with the necessary expertise that will ensure you get communication right.
Change here won’t happen overnight but improving can look like you keeping your best people and holding on to customers simply because you are able to connect and engage with them effectively.
It’s not about becoming a professional communicator, but it is about changing your mindset to understand what communication can do and being open to develop your impact and influence.
It can start with you being purposeful, genuine and empathetic. That means putting people first to set things up for the long term. And if in the past you never stepped up and took time to communicate well, if you do it well in challenging times and when it matters most, it can change everything. So, why not start now?