Leadership Communications 101

Even leaders need to brush up on their communications skills from time to time. The fifth and final trend uncovered by the European Communications Monitor (ECM) addresses leadership in communications, which can come in handy for CEOs and political leaders alike, whether it be carrying out organizational strategies, confronting a tough economic climate, or addressing a crowd.

In a study asking communications professionals about which abilities and conditions help their top executives effectively confront issues in the field, the most highly ranked aspect was involvement in strategic decision-making within the organization, closely followed by possessing the knowledge to develop appropriate strategies, plans, and messages, and providing a compelling vision for how communication can help the organization.

This research indicates that, while building coalitions, motivating followers, and possessing ethical values to guide one’s actions are important, they are not prioritized as highly as the aforementioned skills.

Another study conducted by Ketchum on a global scale asked leaders how to restore confidence during challenging economic times. The central takeaway was the importance of maintaining transparency about the upcoming challenges. Other lessons from this study included articulating a clear overall vision to stakeholders, seeking out collaborative solutions, focusing less on overall rhetoric and more on clear plans of action, and being delicate when spelling out challenges so as not to damage an already fragile morale.

The last finding of the study related to communication strategies while campaigning. Surprisingly, despite the burgeoning importance of digital communications, having a physical presence remains very important. People still crave to see leaders speak live as well as have contact with them directly. Moreover, in spite of the pervasiveness of social media, traditional media is still perceived as superior when it comes to credibility.

It will be interesting to observe whether this remains the case or whether social media channels continue to gain credibility and respect and how leaders recalibrate their communications strategies accordingly.

This is this fifth of a five part series on the European Communications Monitor (ECM), sponsored by Ketchum. The ECM is one of the largest surveys of communications professionals in the world, run by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA), the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) and Communication Director Magazine, drew data from more than 2000 participants in 42 countries. View the first post here, the second post here, the third post here, and the fourth post here.