As Marshall McLuhan‘s globe continues to morph into a village and Thomas Friedman‘s world to flatten, the need for corporate communicators to step up and to assume leadership roles in their organizations is mounting.
But what does a leadership role look like for a 21st century communicator? And what is expected from a communicator within the C-suite circle?
According to a report published by Korn Ferry in 2015 titled: The Chief Communications Officer: 2015 Survey and findings among the Fortune 500, the COO as a leader must:
- Provide leadership on reputation, values and culture across the enterprise.
- Design systems, such as those that support an enterprise-wide social media strategy.
- Define and activate corporate character.
- Develop and publish content for external stakeholders.
- Analyze data to understand how stakeholders view the enterprise.
I would say that there more to it than that! A communicator as a leader needs also to:
- Understand the business strategy and provide solutions that affect the bottom line.
- Be bold and courageous when it comes to acting in a proactive manner and provide insights and solutions to their CEO rather than dwelling on the problem.
- Develop a strategic capacity that transcends beyond the narrow angle dictated by the nature of the job, towards a global view that can see and act upon the bigger picture.
So what are the 3 things that communicators need to start doing to evolve and to claim their seat at the table:
- Understand financial management and get educated on reading and analyzing financial statements; it’s crucial to learn the language spoken within the C-suite circle and to be able to form a strategic opinion that includes understanding what keeps your CEO awake at night.
- Understand your organization’s business strategy and contribute in shaping its components. Know the why, what, who and how aspects of the strategy and then invest your knowledge and expertise towards achieving the business goals.
- Become an expert in your field and expand your knowledge base to include not only communications and PR topics but also to cover topics in psychology, anthropology and semiotics among others. After all when you are on the table, a wide knowledge base will allow you to go deep.
I meet many communication and PR executives in events and conferences where attendees grapple with the idea of how can communicators get a place at the table and be looked upon beyond their reactive role. I hope this post can complement this conversation.
I welcome your ideas on the subject. What do you think and why?