Earlier this year we asked communication practitioners what sort of skills and personal development they wanted. Leadership was a big one. Developing leadership capability was something that was high on the wish list for many.
For communicators, leadership is about running an effective team of course, but it is about much more than that. It is about guiding the organisation and ensuring that communication is in the lead rather than following along behind.
Leadership has always mattered, but what we have witnessed from talking to our students past and present is that it seems to be more important than ever. We think there are three key reasons ....
- A world where transparency matters: we all know that organisations can no longer hide behind spin or rely on a PR strategy that is just about ‘managing’ the media. Of course they can try, but they won’t get far. The true nature of the organisation will out eventually. Organisations need to be transparent and authentic. The effective PR and communication practitioner knows this and can spot where and when the organisation might be getting it wrong. However, getting the organisation to listen and understand is the tough bit. This when the practitioner needs self confidence, the ability to argue based on evidence and the skills to influence those that matter. It means understanding the language of business and commanding respect from teams, peers and the C-suite. When a corporate reputation goes into meltdown, other practitioners will watch and wonder where was the PR or communication practitioner while all this was going on? Maybe they were right there all the time, trying to make their voice heard.
- Practitioners with a higher level of skills: the number of highly experienced practitioners – many now holding a professional qualification - continues to grow. This means there is a substantial pool of talent that understands what real two-way PR and communication is all about and why it matters to the organisation. They are already doing great work but want to take their career to the next level and that means improving their communication leadership skills – for many it really is the next rung on the ladder.
- Organisations waking up and smelling the coffee: these days, those in the board room can be in no doubt about the importance of reputation. They want someone to steer them through this fast changing and potentially scary communication world. Heads of PR and internal communication need to step up to the plate and answer the call because if they don’t there are others who will. Our marketing and advertising colleagues come with metrics and plans as standard. They know how to talk the language of business and evidence what they do. But it is PR and communication that get reputation better than anyone, so we should be in the lead. In summary, the top of the organisation is looking for someone to take a communication leadership role, let’s make sure it’s us!