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Does Your Senior Leadership Team SOUND Like One?

(A Shameless pitch for executive coaching)

Yes, I know. Your teams are stretched thin, you’ve all got too much on your plate, and you see communicating about what you’re doing as something that just comes with the territory. Hear me out.

Communicating powerfully is a skill, and as such, one that can be developed.

Yet for some reason, many chief executives continue to believe the ability to communicate as a leader is something you either have, or you don’t.  

When it comes to leading the team, appearing before a potential client, presenting to your board, representing your organization at conferences, or contributing to important briefings and road shows, a lack of real skill is going to be noticed.

Some in your target audience will register that nervous or ineffectual communicator on your team with disappointment. Others might be outright annoyed at the amount of clarification they have to get after one of these appearances. Some might even sympathize with a nervous or mediocre presenter not presenting themselves as one might have expected.

As a leader and a believer in your ability to hire and develop the right talent, I’m going to guess you’re not looking for someone who gains the sympathy vote. You’re looking for someone who can get it done, win the deal, get the buy-in, wow the audience.

Have you ever as a senior executive had to simply take the reins because of a lack of confidence in the communication ability of someone in a key position? Have you simply told others that you CAN’T step aside for projects this important because you don’t have anyone ELSE who can own a room the way you can?

You want someone regardless of their title and experience who can do just what you can; get others to see the vision, persuade, motivate, heck even inspire when it’s called for.

Since there’s only one chance to make a first impression, a senior leader who can’t connect and communicate well probably isn’t going to be saved over time by the backup support you give them, or the sheer brilliance of the content they’ve been given. (If that were true, you could save time and effort and just send out that slide deck.)     

In short, anyone hiring and developing a senior leadership team, needs to make sure those they’re developing have the ability to present themselves effectively, powerfully and in a way that truly represents the best of your organization’s competencies. It’s the very essence of what you want as you put a succession plan in place; someone who knows what they’re talking about AND who can communicate it.   

So, no, these kinds of powerful communication skills don’t simply convey automatically with the executive title you hand out.  No matter what the resume says, no matter how well someone has done in one-on-one interactions, standing before others and persuading them of something takes more than having the right content or being able to offer the right answer. It takes convincing others of the rightness of what you know as it applies to their own benefit. At minimum, it takes the ability to persuade others to take a chance with you for their own benefit.

I’m not talking about simply hiring the ‘smoothest talkers’, or those with great salesmanship or likability factors. Not that these hurt, but think about the disconnect many organizations experience in finding the person who knows the most and who is also the person who can communicate powerfully about what they know.

For your executives to win the bid, calm the critics, gain approval for budgets or investments, strengthen alliances, and solidly bring others on board to decisions, those listening have to believe that they’re hearing the real deal; someone who understands them, understands what they need and can follow through. In other words, someone who can gain the trust of others and who displays real leadership qualities.  

That doesn’t happen by chance. It takes not only preparation (and not only preparation on content), but full confidence in delivering it all.

So yes, I know there’s no surprise in an executive coach making the case for executive coaching, but if you fail to support those you plan on putting in the spotlight, you’ll inevitably be disappointed in the outcome when you’re not in the room to ensure it.

There’s a reason our tag line is, “matching the power of your communication to the power of your ideas.” Sure, I’d love to help, but even if you don’t reach out to us, get your people the help they need. Help your messengers reach their full potential by fully investing in them. With the right tools, your team will be primed to deliver on your vision, and become the real leaders you knew they were capable of becoming.    

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