Great CEOs are Great Communicators

Great CEOs and C-suite executives never underestimate the power and influence their message can have on the business. They realize a crystal clear message – that generates strategically aligned decisions and actions – is what separates high-performing companies from the also-rans.

However, most CEOs underestimate what it takes to formulate a message employees truly embrace and the work required to convert that message into desired business results.

Great CEO communicators don’t make this mistake. They spend a significant amount of time working with experts to formulate their message. They get outside counsel to ensure that message is relevant and resonates with stakeholders up and down the organization. They also put “control mechanisms” in place to ensure the message does not get diluted as it filters its way through the organization and into the customer experience.

One of the great CEO communicators was Jack Welch. Like him or hate him, he knew how to convert a message into action. In the book Jacked Up, the author describes how Welch took time to review every senior level presentation his top team delivered at the company. Some would say he did this because he was a control freak. However, great CEO communicators see the genius in it.

Welch put this process in place to make sure his message was understood by leaders, translated correctly and delivered consistently up and down the organization. Great CEO communicators realize this is just one of many control mechanisms they must put in place if they want the message to manifest itself into desired business outcomes.

A recent Harvard Business Review article said, “Understanding the importance of being understood is what makes great CEOs great communicators.” However, in today’s always on, noisy and hyper connected business world being heard, much less understood, has become extremely challenging for CEOs. That’s why CEOs must be extremely intentional about formulating and managing their message. To do this, they need to get outside counsel, put rigorous processes in place and follow a disciplined cadence.

Ultimately, as the CEO, if you want strategic initiatives to translate into business results – you must put strategic message development, delivery and management at the top of your priority list. Is this a priority for you? Let’s see.

What’s your message around the company’s …

  • Fiscal year business priorities?
  • Primary market or customer opportunities?
  • Recent merger or acquisition?
  • Vision, mission, values and culture?
  • Latest organizational change initiative?

If none of these are relevant, pick one of your top initiatives. What message are you delivering to ensure its success? Do leaders understand the message? Are they translating it correctly and consistently? Is that message driving desired actions from frontline employees? Is your message positively impacting business results?

The Harvard Business Review article referenced earlier went on to say …

“… if people can’t constructively enhance and advance the CEO’s essential message inside the enterprise and out, then something is profoundly wrong with either the people, the message, or the CEO.”

Are your strategic initiatives being operationalized in a consistent, comprehensive and effective manner? If not, does the blame lie on your people? Your message? Or, the fact that you have not yet put all the pieces in place for you to become a great CEO communicator?

By | 2017-05-17T15:15:59+00:00 May 17, 2017|Categories: Communication Strategy|

About the Author:

With more than 25 years experience building collaborative relationships with executive teams, Jim brings a wealth of knowledge to every client engagement. O’Gara has spent thousands of hours formulating winning go-to-market strategies and stories for dozens of Fortune 100 companies and hundreds of high-growth businesses. O’Gara’s expertise in go-to-market strategy development, customer research, corporate messaging and positioning, customer experience management as well as customer-centric culture development has earned him the respect of executives around the world. Over the years, his ability to breakdown business, marketing and customer experience challenges in complex industries (such as healthcare, technology and professional services) has been invaluable to CEOs and CMOs at a number of leading companies. Jim is an active member of the Forbes Communications Council and his thought leadership often appears on Forbes.com.