The shadow of a leader – meaning the impact an executive has on his or her employees – is always bigger than you think. This is especially true when it comes to trust and believability in internal communications. For internal communications to be meaningful, it is important for executives to lead by example: “Don’t just do as I say, do as I behave.” In addition, employees in most companies are craving leadership – they want champions they can trust to lead them in new directions.
The CEO must also be the CCC – Chief Communication Champion of the company. S/he needs to ensure that other executives are truly leading the development of a Culture of Communication – meaning that all corporate communications are reliable, truthful and contain the full story. The CCC needs to establish a Champion Program with rewards and incentives to instill new behaviors. A healthy two-way communication culture will lead to better performance. For the Champion Program to succeed, it must ensure that:
• The CEO is the visible leader of corporate communications
• Executive behavior in support of positive communication is rewarded
• Communications ambassadors are created at all levels of company
During bad times – such as layoffs, a hostile takeover, a product recall – those CEOs who are truly CCCs will have already gained the trust and commitment of employees to work through any crisis.