Leadership in Communications: You Have Not Because You Ask Not
As we continue our Leadership in Communications series, today’s topic is a huge step. It’s important that you choose to lead instead of manage, develop a communications vision, and know your next step, but all of those steps which we’ve discussed so far are private, internal steps.
Leaders go public
If you really believe your vision for your organizations’ communications will transform you organization and propel it towards its goals, you’ve got to talk about it with the people in your organization whose help you need to make that happen.
You’ve got to ask your boss for the meeting to discuss it. You’ve got to ask the board that makes the budgeting decisions for the opportunity to speak to them. You’ve got to go to your peers and share with them how your communications vision would help them achieve their goals.
Leaders go private
Your mind may have already raced ahead to vision casting speeches and power point presentations. While at some point you may need to make a presentation to your staff or board, I believe it’s much better to start with private conversations with key individuals.
Some people are uncomfortable asking questions and making decisions in front of other people. Some analytical people (like me) need time to examine and think about the details before coming out publicly for or against an idea.
Even if eventually the decision to move forward with a new idea will be decided by a group or board, it’s extremely beneficial to have a few of those people already on board and ready to advocate your idea before making a presentation to the group.
Leaders are persistent
Don’t expect your boss, board, peers, or other key people to embrace your vision the first time you share it. If it was an easy idea to say yes to, you’d probably already be doing it. Answer people’s questions. Listen to their concerns. When possible provide examples of other organizations that have done similar things and show the results. Give people time to process. Don’t be rude or antagonizing, but if it’s something you truly believe in, don’t shut up about it.
This is the hard work of leadership.
Everyone has ideas. Few people are willing to schedule the meetings, do the presentations, face the skepticism, answer the questions, persevere through rejection and keep on working to bring about that vision.
Where are you in leading your communications? Do you have a vision but have been afraid or unwilling to have the talks? Or are you boldly and tirelessly sharing your vision and making those asks?