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Cerkl Broadcast

Are Executive Communications a Key to Modern Leadership?

Enhance your impact with executive communications. Expert advice to lead, inspire, and communicate effectively with key stakeholders.
Written by: Penny Swift
executive communications meeting
Published: January 23, 2024
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There is no doubt that effective executive communications are crucial for modern leadership. When well structured, they play a pivotal role in shaping the culture of an organization. They also help drive successful strategies and foster stakeholder engagement. However, CEOs and other business leaders need to clarify their expectations to employees. Sometimes leaders don’t define their vision of success and communicate it adequately. This lack of clarity is likely to produce meaningless cultures that impact them negatively, as we show later on.

Of course, it stands to reason that an executive communications plan will be part of a company’s overall internal communications strategy. In fact, executive communications play a pivotal role in a company’s internal communication plan. They provide leadership with a platform to articulate organizational goals, foster transparency, and align employees with the company’s vision. Done correctly and convincingly, executive communications will effectively convey strategic messages from executives helping to build a cohesive corporate culture. It will also ensure there is a shared understanding of the company’s mission and goals among employees at all levels.

How effective is your internal communications strategy? Do you do regular audits to ensure it remains aligned and impactful? If you don’t, you can easily lose track of how engaged your employees are — or aren’t. Get valuable insights by using Cerkl’s free audit template today. 

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Our template will enable you to assess how well your internal comms are working and how your employees feel. You’ll be able to assess the core competencies, shortcomings, growth potential, and challenges of your comms, and move forward accordingly.

American entrepreneur, author, and marketing guru, Seth Godin succinctly identifies the importance of communication in any enterprise and discusses its future. Discussing his latest (and 25th) book, The Song of Significance, with Cat Barnard co-founder at Working the Future, Godin states, “What a neat job internal communications is.” But it was “unimagined, unnamed, 100 years ago.” The idea that an enterprise would be big enough to need someone who would help communicate internally was something nobody considered, he says. But now, “We have this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to shape internal communication for what it could be.”  

With this in mind, we are going to explore what executive communications mean for those navigating modern leadership positions. 

What Are Effective Executive Communications?

On the surface, communication in any workplace simply involves an exchange of ideas and thoughts. But that’s not enough to make it meaningful. 

When it comes to executive communications, it is vital that messages are clear and employees know where they stand. If there isn’t clarity, leaders may lose trust and credibility. Writing for Forbes Advisor, Christiana Jolaoso states that workplace communication should go beyond the exchange of information. It needs to incorporate deliberate communication exercises to boost confidence, foster engagement, and enhance overall organizational productivity. 

Without clarity, employees are less likely to be motivated and their actions may not align with the strategic goals of the organization. There may also be reduced uncertainty amongst employees because of a lack of clear leadership. This often leads to decreased job satisfaction and increased quitting.   

The reality is that communication can be more of a challenge when it involves people with different backgrounds and points of view. Unfortunately, in work environments, this often leads to conflict. It’s up to leaders to ensure that executive and CEO communications are effective and efficient. Also, it needs to work both ways, so that employees also have their say. And it needs to achieve goals to make it worthwhile. 

Research tells us more about the effectiveness of communications. 

What Studies Tell Us About Executive Communications

Grammarly, a company that strives to help people achieve more through effective communication, produces regular research and business reports. According to The State of Business Communication report published in 2023, ineffective communication in the workplace costs U.S. businesses $1.2 trillion every year. This translates to an average of $12,506 per employee per year. 

The report states that miscommunication from leadership is rampant and causes employee attrition and considerable stress. Furthermore, poor communication disrupts efficiency and productivity. Effective communication is clearly key to business performance. But leaders and employees don’t agree on how to resolve ineffective communication. 

“Effective communication turns interactions into relationships and abstract business strategy into shared motivation. Poor communication, however, becomes a roadblock to performance – and when that infrastructure crumbles, the most basic functions of the company break down.”

Grammarly

In its State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report: The Voice of the World’s Employees, Gallup puts the cost for low engagement globally at U.S. $ 8.8 trillion. 

“Leadership and management directly influence workplace engagement, and there is much that organizations can do to help their employees thrive at work.”  

Gallup

In Gallup’s previous State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report, of the 31 million employees interviewed, only 13% said their bosses had effective executive leadership skills.

8.8$ trillion is the cost of low engagement

The 2023 report points out that managers are “the linchpin of engagement,” with 70% of team engagement attributable to managers. But there’s a big problem. Globally, more than half the employees who responded to the study (51%) said they had some level of intent to leave their jobs. And many of these people are managers. “The good news,” the report states, “is that cutting-edge, science-based management can be taught.” 

What Can We Learn? 

The figures quoted are alarming. They show that when leaders don’t communicate business goals and convey values, it can become incredibly challenging for employees to achieve these goals. On the other hand, when executive and management communications are clear, employees are much more likely to work towards given goals.

Effective communication is a two-way street. Leaders need to convey information in a way employees will understand. At the same time, employees need to focus on the full meaning of messages and conversations. When this exchange of ideas is carried out efficiently it will be effective and will encourage collaboration.

Don’t forget the message in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report. Managers are also impacted. For this reason, it makes sense to include executive communication training in any management communications plan.   

Free Internal Comms Audit Template to Improve Engagement

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  • Asses employee engagement
  • Analyze content categories
  • Appraise comms impact

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Are Poor Executive Communications Impacting Your Business? 

According to an article by Ukrainian behavioral scientist, Gleb Tsipursky published in Harvard Business Review, the need for effective communication in business has never been so strong. Renowned for helping business leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs, he warns leaders that poor communication may be slowing down their team. 

He identifies that many surveys reveal that employees are frustrated because communication from their bosses isn’t clear. One of the research reports he mentions is What Hybrid and Remote Employees Really Want, by FlexOS. Their study shows how employees rate their managers, with 70% of them saying managers manage their teams effectively. A total of 30% said they were frustrated by “unclear communication.” 

One reason is the siloed communication environment that remote and hybrid work has created. Even though his assessment is specific to remote/hybrid teams, it applies to all forms of internal communication. It also highlights how important it is to have a good executive communications plan in place. 

“When managers are unclear in their communication, it can rob teams of their focus, diluting the overall quality of their output. It’s important for managers to realize that clear, consistent communication isn’t an option; it’s imperative. Poor communication impedes both individual and collective progress.”

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

How to Achieve Good Executive Communications

Nobody should ever underestimate the skills required to be a good leader in any environment. For starters, executive leadership skills demand the ability to be a good listener, adept in delivering messages, and genuinely sincere when asking for feedback. Authentic (as in genuine) and consistent communication, body language, and nonverbal signals all play a part.

executive communications skills

Several years ago, Seth Godin defined authenticity as “consistent emotional labor.” He added that, “We call a brand or a person authentic when they’re consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.” 

More recently, he added to this stating that “authenticity is overrated,” and drew a distinction between authenticity and consistency. “I think authenticity is a crock. I think it’s a place to hide. Authenticity is what we say when we tried something that didn’t work, and we’re upset.” He goes on to say that he doesn’t want people to be authentic. Rather, he wants them to be consistent. 

There’s no doubt that Seth Godin is consistent in his thinking. More than a decade ago he said, “Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not ‘being who you are’.” 

There’s a message here. Be genuine and consistent so that your employees know what to expect. Also, be aware that there are many skills that shape an organization’s culture, drive strategy, and foster stakeholder engagement. These include transparency, adaptability, crisis management, social responsibility, ethical considerations, and the ability to implement feedback mechanisms

Ultimately, develop an executive communications strategy that people can follow. 

There is also good news from Gallup’s 2023 Report. It reveals that employee engagement reached a record high of 23% in 2022. It indicates that an increasing number of workers are feeling more connected to their teams, managers, CEOs, and employers.

employee engagement reached a record high

The report also stresses the importance of relationships between employees and their team leaders and managers. Gallup’s global research shows that a lack of engagement has just as much influence on employee’s stress where they work. Remote work offers increased flexibility and eliminates the stress of commuting to an office. But it doesn’t provide the same kinds of opportunities to collaborate or bond with those who employees value as mentors. 

This highlights the need for team leaders and those in authority to ensure they maximize the potential of executive and CEO communications. Furthermore, their skills should embrace the needs of both desk-based and deskless employees.

10 Important Executive Leadership Skills

There is no doubt that executive communication skills require a multifaceted approach. Successful techniques involve aligning communication with executive communications strategy and being transparent and adaptable. They also require an ability to use various channels effectively, and to confidently address the unique challenges of today’s business environment. 

Here are 10 vitally important basic skills to build on.

#1 Transparent Communications

Executives at all levels need to be open and honest in their communication. This builds trust with employees, customers, and investors, and is especially important during times of crisis or change. This skill goes hand-in-hand with Seth Godin’s defined value of authenticity and focus on consistency.  

#2 Adaptability

Leaders need to be adaptable. This simply means that they need to be able to adapt their communication style to different situations and audiences. They must be equally comfortable addressing a large gathering, conducting one-on-one meetings, or communicating in writing. The same applies to the way they communicate with both on-site and remote workers.

#3 Listening Skills

Effective communication is a two-way street. It’s all very well to be able to address employees compellingly. But leaders must be good listeners too. Listening skills are essential if leaders are going to understand the concerns and ideas of team members and other stakeholders. But it is just as important to show you are listening, by responding with gestures, and providing feedback. Maintaining eye contact is also important.

#4 Crisis Management

In times of crisis, executive and management communications become even more critical. Leaders need to communicate promptly, provide accurate information, and convey a sense of control and confidence.

#5 Social Responsibility

Modern leadership often involves addressing social and environmental issues. Executives should communicate their organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and sustainability clearly.

#6 Ethical Considerations

Ethical communication is paramount. Apart from anything else, a company’s reputation relies largely on how it treats its employees and customers. Leaders must ensure that their communication aligns with ethical principles, entrenched values, and legal regulations. 

#7 Feedback Mechanisms 

When leaders establish feedback mechanisms, it allows them to gauge the effectiveness of their communication. They can then make improvements as needed. Leaders can ask team members for input, or even allow them to share their feelings anonymously. Leaders can also offer feedback, but this needs to be done thoughtfully and with empathy. 

#8 Team Empowerment 

Effective executive communications empower teams to make decisions and take ownership. It’s not just about conveying orders, but also inspiring and enabling others.

#9 Multi-Channel Communications

C-suite and CEO communications don’t rely solely on one channel. Modern leaders need to leverage a combination of channels including social media, email, video, and town hall meetings. This is the best way to reach a wider range of stakeholders. 

#10 Continuous Learning

Modern leadership requires continuous learning and adaptation. Executives should invest in improving their own communication skills and staying up-to-date with evolving executive and management communications trends. Leaders should also maintain executive communication training as part of the overall executive communications plan. 

Ultimately, relationships and feedback will improve when leaders define who they are and what they mean. Setting a clear direction for employees will also increase efficiency and improved performance will follow.

Business Benefits of Forceful Executive Communications

A good business leader will be able to boost employee motivation, increase engagement, enhance job satisfaction, and improve productivity, all with minimized conflict. All of these are valuable potential business benefits of modern leadership and enhanced CEO communications.

ceo communications

Improve Motivation

Inadequate communication between management and staff contributes to low employee retention within organizations. However, when employees realize the significance of their roles within the team and how their contributions impact overall success, they become more motivated to take proactive steps. This enhances employee retention, reduces quitting, and strengthens the organization. It also sustains employee motivation and can make a significant impact in terms of engagement and productivity.

Increased Engagement

Effective executive communications have several benefits that lead to increased engagement in the work environment. These include fostering stronger relationships among management and employees and promoting employee engagement. When management considers employee needs and communicates effectively, it becomes easier to harness their skills and talents toward common objectives. 

Improved Productivity 

When information is conveyed effectively, employees better understand their roles. This, in turn, enables them to perform competently and more confidently. Generally, it will lead to increased productivity across the entire organization.

Enhance Job Satisfaction

In another Forbes Advisor article, Leeron Hoory wrote about their analysis of workplace communication and productivity. The survey she reports on reached out to hybrid (53%), remote (27%), and on-site workers (20%). It covers many elements, but one that stands out is the impact on job satisfaction. Close to half (48%) of those surveyed said that the lack of effective communication affected their job satisfaction.  

Minimized Conflict

Workplaces inherently consist of individuals from diverse cultures and belief systems, making conflicts inevitable. Yet, a significant portion of these conflicts tend to arise from ineffectual communication methods. Work environments that prioritize open internal communication styles can expect a decrease in conflicts, both between managers and employees and among employees.

These potential benefits all become possible when those in authority hone their executive leadership skills and maximize the value of communication. 

How to Implement an Executive Communications Strategy

To implement an executive communications strategy, start by defining clear objectives that are aligned with organizational goals. Identify target audiences, tailor messages to their needs, and choose appropriate channels for distribution. Consistent messaging, regular evaluation, and flexibility to adapt based on feedback are essential components for successful implementation. Engage key stakeholders, monitor outcomes, and adjust the strategy as needed to ensure effective communication.

Free Internal Comms Audit Template to Improve Engagement

Upgrade your company’s internal comms to enhance employee communication
Free Internal Comms Audit Template to Improve Engagement
  • Evaluate channel viability
  • Asses employee engagement
  • Analyze content categories
  • Appraise comms impact

Download Free

All fields are required.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide you can follow. 

Develop an Executive Communications Plan

A good starting point for an executive communications plan is to conduct a thorough assessment of organizational objectives. Identify key stakeholders, craft clear and consistent messages, select appropriate communication channels, and establish a timeline for regular executive communication activities.

A good executive communications plan will effectively convey the organization’s vision, strategy, and key messages. It will foster transparency and alignment among employees while also enhancing the credibility and leadership image of executives. Ultimately, if an executive communications plan is effective, it will contribute to a cohesive and motivated workforce.

Improve Skills with Executive Communication Training

Improving skills with executive communication training entails providing executives with targeted workshops, coaching sessions, and relevant resources. The latter should be focused on enhancing their abilities to communicate effectively, build rapport with diverse audiences, and adapt messaging to align with organizational goals and values.

Monitor Success with People’s Analytics

Monitoring success with people’s analytics involves employing data-driven tools to track and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) that are related to executive communications. This includes assessing employee engagement, feedback mechanisms, and other relevant metrics to gauge the impact of communication efforts on organizational culture, employee satisfaction, and overall business success.

Communication is Key when Navigating Modern Leadership

Internal communication is essential when it comes to a happy and productive workforce. Cerkl knows this can be a tough process, but we encourage companies to utilize our specialized internal communication software to make it easier. 

It is, though, vital for those at the helm to develop their executive leadership skills. When executive and management communications are working, employees will feel more engaged and inspired, and long-term sustainability and purpose won’t be threatened. 

What’s Next?

Company executives often use their leadership skills within focused internal communications campaigns. This is a great way to engage with employees and other staff members. Great camaraderie and positive feedback often indicate that these campaigns are highly successful. But how do you know they are effective? The fact is, that success can only be evaluated if you are able to measure effectiveness. This is why Cerkl Broadcast has developed many of the tools we offer. 

Free Internal Comms Audit Template to Improve Engagement

Free Internal Comms Audit Template to Improve Engagement

Upgrade your company’s internal comms to enhance employee communication

Download Free

All fields are required.

We offer a free interactive worksheet that will help company executives with strategic internal communications audits. This will help you to focus on the most viable communications channels and ultimate success. Contact us right away and we can schedule a chat to schedule more details. 

FAQ

What is executive communications?

Executive communications are used by management and team leaders to clarify strategies and expectations to employees. This is a key way to convey important information, address critical issues, and maintain credibility and integrity within an organization.

How do you communicate like an executive?

There are many executive leadership skills that we need to communicate like a successful executive. They include clarity, confidence, the ability to actively listen, and to stay calm under pressure. Authenticity and strategy are key. But above all, if you want to communicate like an executive, you need to lead by example.

What are the types of executive communications?

Broadly speaking, executive communications are either internal or external. They may also be written or face-to-face, in-person or virtual. Topics to be covered will also affect the direction and the kind of interaction communications follow. For instance, financial communications will be very different from communications initiated because of a crisis or an M&A.

What makes good executive communication?

Executive communications need to be confident, convincing, relevant, transparent, and above all, effective. Modern leaders need to be able to communicate clearly but they also need to be able to listen. Ultimately, good executive communication builds trust, maintains a positive corporate image, and drives an organization toward success.

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Free Internal Comms Audit Template to Improve Engagement

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