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
We are going to explore what executive skills mean for those navigating modern leadership positions.
Table of contents
- What Are Effective Executive Communications?
- How to Achieve Compelling Leadership Communications
- How to Achieve Good Executive Communications
- 10 Important Executive Leadership Skills
- Business Benefits of Forceful Modern Leadership
- Communication is Key when Navigating Modern Leadership
- What’s Next?
What Are Effective Executive Communications?
On the surface, communication in any workplace involves an exchange of ideas and thoughts. But that’s not enough to make it meaningful. When it comes to CEO communications, it is vital that the messages are clear and employees know where they stand. If there isn’t clarity, leaders may lose trust and credibility. 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 communication is effective and efficient. Also, it needs to work both ways, so that employees and leaders have their say. And it needs to achieve goals to make it worthwhile.
Research tells us more about the effectiveness of communications. Grammarly, a company that strives to help people achieve more through effective communication, produces regular research and business reports. According to their The State of Business Communication 2023, ineffective communication in the workplace costs U.S. businesses $1.2 trillion every year.
Adding to this, of the 31 million employees interviewed for Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, only 13% said their bosses had effective executive leadership skills.
These figures are alarming. When CEOs don’t communicate business goals and convey values, it can become incredibly challenging for employees to achieve these goals. On the other hand, when CEO communications are clear, employees are much more likely to work towards given goals.
How to Achieve Compelling Leadership Communications
Writing for Harvard Business Review, John Hamm, who led a CEO boot camp in the Bay Area for four years, suggests five ways that business leaders can become more effective.
- CEO communications need to be convincing. So, it is vital that the leaders maintain definitional control of the organizational structure and hierarchy of the business.
- Executive leadership skills must embrace an ability to communicate financial results without compromising core operations. Ultimately, the concept of getting results needs to be managed to ensure any promises are reasonable.
- CEOs, like their employees, need to know what their leadership role is. They don’t need to provide all the answers. The best businesses operate with teams, and the CEO needs to know how to lead his or her team.
- Leaders need to have reasonable expectations in terms of time management. Here flexibility is key.
- CEOs need to be able to communicate clearly and precisely about their corporate culture. Those who cannot define and share this definition with their employees need to clarify their values and purpose. A good start is to focus on important goals and the experience of what winning in your relevant marketplace means.
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 communication, body language, and nonverbal signals all play a part.
American author and former dot com business executive Seth Godin has defined authenticity as “consistent emotional labor.” That might sound harsh, but what he is saying is, “Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.” It couldn’t be more important for executives leading their companies.
However, many other skills 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.
There is 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.
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 communications skills require a multifaceted approach. Successful techniques involve aligning communication with 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.
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. Maintaining eye contact is also important.
4# Crisis Management
In times of crisis, executive communications becomes 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 empowers 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 communication skills and staying up-to-date with evolving executive communications trends.
Ultimately, as John Hamm says in HBR, 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 Modern Leadership
A good business leader will be able to boost employee motivation, increase engagement, and improve productivity. All of these are valuable potential business benefits of modern leadership and enhanced CEO communications.
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.
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.
When information is conveyed effectively, employees gain a better understanding of their roles. This, in turn, enables them to perform competently and more confidently. Generally, it will lead to increased productivity across the entire organization.
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.
Communication is Key when Navigating Modern Leadership
Internal communications are 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 CEO communications are working, employees will feel more engaged and inspired, and long-term sustainability and purpose won’t be threatened.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.