Product and service innovation, customer requirements, competitive movement, digital transformation, mergers / acquisitions … the pace of change is increasing on every front in business. As a result, many CEOs and C-suite executives feel like firefighters. Constantly adjusting strategies and messages based on prevailing winds shifting from minute to minute.

The job of a C-suite executive is not to fight fires. Instead, the CEO and C-suite’s job is to establish anchors for the organization in a world of constant change.

More specifically, they are responsible for setting clear expectations for what will not change. What will remain true and constant no matter what. Irrespective of changes going on inside and outside of the business.

What are those anchors? They are the messages that…

  • Describe the heart and soul of the business
  • Differentiate the brand
  • Distill what the company stands for
  • Define customer experience expectations

Often, these “anchor messages” get pushed aside when the company is going through rapid change. It’s all about the here and now. It’s all about daily tactics and firefighting. The sad thing is … this is precisely the wrong thing to do. Because when the storms roll in — employees and customers need to call upon those anchor messages. They need to be reminded of what matters most and the things that aren’t changing. They need to connect with messages that define the foundation of the business. Messages that will guide how they react to change and make decisions that are in the best interest of the business long-term.

Executive teams that have established and communicated clear, compelling and consistent anchor messages can weather any storm. They can get through the daily fires and still deliver superior business results. Those that have not engrained these messages into the hearts and minds of employees and customers … cannot.

  • Do your employees and customers clearly understand your company’s purpose?
  • What about your brand promise?
  • Do employees embody your core values?
  • Do employees and customers understand what differentiates you from the competition?
  • Do they have a firm grasp of your vision and mission?

Only when employees and customers have knowledge of and belief in these “anchor messages” can they rise above daily distractions and disappointments and remain loyal and true to your business. Anchor messages create a sense of stability and clarity around what matters most long-term. They relate to your company’s purpose, mission, values and promise to customers. They relate to your customer experience goals and long-term strategy.

As we work with executives around the world, we often see these “anchor messages” posted on breakroom walls and in brochures throughout the buildings we pass through. Rarely do we see them come to life in the words and actions of the employees walking the halls. But when we do it is noticeable.

There is clarity and calmness in the air. There is clear, intense focus in their eyes. They recognize that trials and tribulations will rock the business but they know the executive team has positioned the company to rise above it. Employees are able to stay focused on the things that matter. They understand that while products and services, business processes, technology, competitive pressure and other aspects of the business may change the most important things will not. Those are the “anchor messages” that create clarity and alignment up and down the organization even when fires pop up from week to week, month to month and quarter to quarter. They rise above the flames and focus on solutions that align with the company’s anchor messages.

If you are a CEO or C-suite executive you need “anchor messages” that guide and shape the beliefs and actions of employees and customers. You need to ensure those messages are engrained in their minds so that when change occurs and all hell breaks loose … they instinctively grab hold of what matters most.