Magazine article Communication World

10 Tips for Effective Leadership

Magazine article Communication World

10 Tips for Effective Leadership

Article excerpt

What does it take to stand out from the crowd? How can you position yourself to step into a leadership role? Even the most exceptional communication professional may feel stymied when it comes to filling a top communication slot. Why? Because it takes more than solid credentials, strong written and verbal communication ability and an impressive portfolio to fill those top positions.

If news reports are to be trusted, the job market has become one that favors the employee -- jobs abound and employers are scrambling to attract and retain the best talent. But even though there may be an abundance of jobs at the lower and middle ranks of many organizations, those who aspire to the top communication leadership positions must still compete for a few choice spots.

Here, in no particular order, are my "Top 10 Tips for Becoming an Effective Leader in Corporate Communication."

* Recognize that your purpose is to serve the needs of the organization -- not the needs of your department or your position.

"I would like to attend the IABC international conference because it is an excellent opportunity to network with communication professionals."

"Our department can't take on that project; it doesn't fit our scope of services."

Have you ever made a statement similar to the ones above? I have. Over the years, though, I've learned that framing my requests or opinions in terms of what benefits me or even in terms of what benefits my department rarely leads to positive results.

When you are hired into any position, the deal is pretty straightforward. You will be paid a certain amount to do certain things that your employer feels are valuable to the firm. It is wonderful when the things you're being paid to do also support your own personal goals, and I would certainly encourage anyone (especially in today's tight labor market) to seek positions that do support personal goals.

Once you are on the job, however, decisions that are made by your manager, by the top executives at the organization, or by the board are not designed to further your personal goals, nor are they necessarily designed to further the goals of your department. Knowing this is important, because as you find yourself in a position to make recommendations, or to make your own decisions, you will find that you have a much better chance of seeing those recommendations become realities if your argument is framed in terms of what is best for the organization and nor what is best for your department or your position.

To serve the needs of the organization effectively, you need to have a broad business focus. Just as advertisers do, you need to frame issues to address the needs, concerns and interests of your audience.

For example:

Bad argument: We need to do this because it follows good corporate communication principles.

Good argument: We need to do this because it is most likely to result in a favorable outcome for the organization.

You can achieve your communication objectives, but that should not be your overriding goal. The goal should be to meet the needs of the organization.

* Think of yourself as a consultant -- not a decision-maker.

Suppose your organization has a product that was recently found to be defective and that has caused a serious injury to a customer. You put together a communication plan indicating how this issue should be addressed with key stakeholders. You present that plan to upper management and are shocked and frustrated to learn that they want to proceed in an entirely different direction. "That's not right," you say. "Why did they hire me if they aren't going to listen to what I have to say?"

Corporate communication is one of several "service" departments in any organization. Other service departments include human resources, legal, accounting and others. These departments are very important--but they're important in an advisory capacity. …

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