In my work with thousands of communicators in a broad range of organizations and sectors, one theme remains a constant – leadership has never been more relevant for the communications industry as it is now.
It’s what internal clients are looking for, and it’s also the unique space communicators crave, in order to provide really meaningful value to the organizations they serve.
While the value of leadership is often invisible (in that it is not found in the production of the “stuff” of communications), it can be traced by zooming in on its three core dimensions:
Integrating: Communicators are regularly tasked with synthesizing content and ideas, packaging the value our organizations offer, and making sense of what otherwise might be an incomprehensible smattering of projects, initiatives and results achieved across our business. You’ll see this kind of integration work in the crafting of coherent messaging in an annual report, or in creating powerful audience-centric messaging for a website in a way that connects with key stakeholders.
Mediating: We are often the ones on the front lines, called upon to bring disparate parts of an organization, or of a partnership of stakeholders together and on the same page. That is the challenge – and opportunity – for communicators, and it’s core to our ability to effect leadership. In fact, communicators are often the only ones who can actually get this kind of job done.
Coaching: Communicators are regularly called upon to provide strategic counsel and coaching on sensitive issues for colleagues and executive clients. This may be done formally – as in the case of media training, but more often it may be quite a subtle contribution, such as reviewing a difficult piece of correspondence or providing insight on an issue in a quick Blackberry message.
As you embrace a results-based model of communications management focused on evaluation, make sure that your definition of value includes leadership – the critical, yet often invisible contributions you make in areas such as integrating, mediating, and coaching. One of the easiest ways to adopt this inclusive vantage point on value is to incorporate client satisfaction surveys as part of your measurement activity.
Let’s face it – if you don’t recognize and communicate the real value of what you do as a communicator, who else is going to do it for you?
If you’re looking for professional development opportunities to hone your leadership skills, check out the Institute for Strategic Communications & Change. The Institute is a certificate-based leadership program focused on the intersection between strategic communications and change management.