Our Thoughts

07 Feb

Communications leaders - what is your seat worth?

Thoughts - 493 views

When CEOs ask what qualities their Communications leader must have, it becomes interesting. Could they be actually asking how this leader can add to the organisations’ goals by enlarging markets and minimise risks?

Seen in this light, a Communications leaders’ KPIs are no different their colleagues sitting at the management table. In order words, they’re expected to be both business leaders and functional experts.

For years practitioners moaned about not having a management seat. The current reality is that most progressive organisations accept that communications is important. Admittedly, some may not yet realise its true value. And, this is where great Communications leaders shine!

Senior practitioners must completely align their priorities with the organisations’ goals. They need to design and execute strategies that deliver measurable results for the business. If achieved, they will quickly gain the attention & respect of their management colleagues and indeed, the Board.

So apart from mastering the communications skillset, senior practitioners must also be business leaders familiar with the world of international business. They should be conversant with management accounting and be true subject matter experts.

For instance, public and government affairs senior practitioners must understand the laws & regulations of their industry when they may not be lawyers. Financial communicators need to know how financial and capital markets work while not being investment analysts or hold a finance degree.

It is critical that senior practitioners spend significant time developing deep knowledge of their industries and businesses. At the same time, they have to continually broaden their stakeholder networks in order to play their roles as “the window in, and window out” for their businesses.

Savvy Communications leaders and their management colleagues should appreciate what value Communications advisory firms bring to the table. Importantly, they also know when to bring them in to deliver maximum impact in achieving their goals. 

Some great news for senior Communicators who shape themselves as business leaders. There are literally no limits to where your career journey can take you. Just think of Peter Brabeck of Nestle or Beth Comstock of GE. Both were communicators at certain points in their careers before being CEO and Vice-Chairman of their companies.

Nearer home, Maurits Lalisang of Unilever Indonesia also spent time leading Communications before becoming the President Director of the company.

- Eric Lee, Principal Consultant