We recently spoke to Matt Burgess about what exactly the term “Leadership Communications” meant. This week, we are looking deeper at the subject of leadership communications. More specifically how you can improve leadership communications throughout a whole organisation.
At Mission Performance, we believe that each level of leadership within an organisation has different challenges and desired outcomes. Therefore, in order to positively impact Leadership Communications across a whole organisation, it is important to tailor programmes for each level in order to reflect this. Matt Burgess talks further about this in his interview.
Watch the video or read the questions and answers below, it’s up to you!
What Unique Challenges do Executives Face?
Firstly, it’s going to be different for all organisations, the way we work with leaders, and it’s going to be different within the tranches of leadership. Because of the fact that your executive leaders are looking to achieve something different from your middle managers. Who are looking to achieve something different from your front-line leaders.
So, to take the executive team, this is about strategy, it’s about direction, it’s big picture. It’s not about day to day basis of delivering. It’s about defining what that is and because of that, the message has to have clarity. If I don’t believe the message or I’m muddled in the message it is far less likely that that message will permeate through the lower levels of leadership and the lower levels of management. So it’s got to be clear, its got to be precise. This is about the way you deliver the message. It is about your content through storytelling and how you create a congruence between the way that message is put across and the message itself.
What Unique Challenges do Middle Managers Face?
The middle managers are about enabling others. They’re about allowing the front-line managers and the delivery team to deliver and this is about coaching to some extent. Coaching great communicators. This is taking the leadership message from the executive team, making sure they understand it, challenging it if they have to challenge it (if it doesn’t have clarity) and again putting it across in a way that inspires. So that the front-line have no doubt as to what’s going on and how that should be delivered.
What Unique Challenges do Front-Line Managers and Staff Face?
Very very different challenges again. This is very changeable on a day to day basis. You are working with individuals and because you’re working with individuals within a team where there are challenges, in terms of delivery schedule and all of those kinds of things, you have to be flexible. Thinking on your feet very quickly. There is going to be a chance that you will be dealing with conflict. But again, it’s about putting across a message that will inspire me day to day. As an executive team you may have to stand up once a quarter, front-line I might have to stand up, all be it in front of a smaller group, every day, twice a day, once every week to make sure the message is clear and I’m motivated by it.
How Has Mission Performance Helped Other Organisations?
We were working with one specific organisation across many different levels of leadership. Working with their executive team initially and did some coaching with their executive team. I worked with one of their board members on his communications skills and presenting. We worked with them looking at their strategy and how that strategy was going to be put across.
We then worked in a very experiential way with their middle managers. So we took that group away for 4 or 5 days, I think it was, in 2 different groups, down to Dartmoor. We worked with them taking them completely out of their comfort zone. This was based on a framework of skills that we had looked at in a classroom before and then we came back and looked at how they were putting them skills into practice.
I then worked with the front-line staff so these are people who are dealing with customer service issues and we worked in an incredibly practical way. These were people that I was told were not going to enjoy being in a classroom. They were very challenging but very rewarding sessions because you are working with folk that are dealing with human beings on a day to day basis in challenging situations and it is how you can change the way you’re communicating, affect the way you’re communicating to bring out the best in those customer service situations.
Customer service is incredibly important within a business. We remember bad customer service or bad feedback for a long long time so it’s about putting yourself in different positions. How can I be flexible in the way I communicate? Or How can I reset when something’s gone badly and I’ve got to communicate with somebody else?
How Does Mission Performance Work With High Potentials?
Well, they are a group that is commonly overlooked. Often they’re overlooked in my experience, which is a shame because they’re your future leaders. They can set your culture right from, if you want to look at the hierarchical structure, right from the base level of an organisation. These are people that we are working with to develop their own personal brand.
There is one thing that I have learned from working in North America a lot, it’s that if I was to compare North America with Western Europe, one of the things that North American graduates do (This is a sweeping generalisation but there is a degree of truth in it) they are very good at selling themselves. They’re very good at standing up and saying these are my achievements, this is what I did at high school, this is what I did at University, this is what I bring to you as an organisation. In the UK and other areas of Europe that I’ve worked, I think we are slightly less good at that.
It’s about developing an ability to stand in front of people. To be confident in your communication skills, to network, to think on your feet, to be able to answer questions with clarity of thought. And if you can get that right you are developing leadership skill that becomes a repeatable behaviour at a younger age and you are setting the right culture as you move up through the organisation.
Read our previous blog post “What is “Leadership Communications”?” and watch the interview with Matt Burgess here.