- As a crisis recedes, a strategic communicator needs to focus on how we create value for our organization’s leadership and our teams.
- Especially now, we receive an overabundance of information, but there’s very little wisdom. Strategic communicators are looked to for clarity in a crisis.
- Three components — leadership, relationship and creativity — empower creating value. Each is needed for communicators to inspire the most confidence.
The COVID season has taught us a great deal about American society, companies, families and each of us as individuals. As we begin to get back to some sense of normal and off of a war footing or crisis mindset, we as strategic communications need to focus on how we create value and contribute to our organizations. Lots of people talk about being a valuable employee, being a valuable company, and providing value, but there’s not been a lot of thinking about what actually creates value. What are the things that we do to create value?
The inherent superpowers of good strategic communicators are providing clarity during confusing situations, smart storytelling and the ability to make something complex into something simple. What we want to do is take those superpowers and deploy them in new thoughtful and collaborative ways, but how do we turn these into an engine for creating value for your leadership as well as yourself and your team?
There are three components that go into creating value: leadership, relationship and creativity.
In a leadership context, there is an overabundance of information constantly coming at us: our Twitter feed, our other social feeds, traditional news media, podcasts, company updates, text messages, Slack, email and now Zoom or its equivalent for many of us. There is constant information, but there’s very little wisdom. There’s very little insight to all of this data.
The leadership of your organization and the non-communicators that you work with are hungry for some wisdom that you are uniquely positioned to provide so they can process this overabundance of information. Providing that wisdom creates significant confidence about what to do next. This has always been acute in a crisis context, but I think it’s going to remain acute post-COVID and actually become critical to communicating how we come back and how we communicate for the balance of 2020 and beyond.
Leaders appreciate the value when others simplify the complex issues and provide clarity about what we find confusing. So as communicators, we are often put in situations with a confusing mix of messages and a complex situation with no clear next step, and we speak truth to power by providing clarity. So the leadership concept of creating value is strategic communicators using our superpowers to turn this dizzying array of complexity into wisdom. This, in turn, creates confidence.
The second component of creating value is the relationship. It’s easy to get frustrated with a leader in your organization because they do not communicate the way that you would have in that situation, or you get frustrated because messaging gets confused or comes too late. But the real opportunity is utilizing our relationships with those leaders to take on a coaching role that promotes confidence. But we don’t provide confidence by being bold at the front of the room. We create confidence because our relationship enables us to ask hard questions that probe and prod and get to the underbelly of the real challenge that we need to address in a way that isn’t confrontational.
A coach that I was working with would always ask, “What’s the real challenge here for you?” Asking that question forced me to think about the bigger picture of the issue that we have in front of us and to really focus on what matters, and it gave me the confidence to do just that. As strategic communicators, if we have good relationships with those that we’re serving, that is the best way for us to foster confidence in others and to identify their strengths and capabilities. More importantly, we can use our relationships to identify the real challenge in this situation for them?
Once we cross that bridge, it brings us to our last component of creating value: creativity. You may think that creativity is the easy part after creating wisdom out of chaos and coaching our leaders to focus on the real challenge, but it shouldn’t be the easiest part. The talents, skills and experience — the wisdom — that we have as strategic communicators are most valued by your leadership team when they show up as creative words, creative tactics, creative messages and creative ideas.
That’s a great way to create value. When we provide those creative insights to our leadership team that’s built off our ability to simplify, that leverages off of the relationships we have, that then creates the confidence in our creativity to craft really, really good messages and truly be in service of our leadership.
Creating value at a super high level depends on using the elements of leadership, relationship and creativity both consistently in the now and innovatively for the future. That’s how strategic communicators can take their inherent superpowers and transform them in maximum value for your leaders, your team and your organization.