Comments on the CEO as Chief Communications Officer

CEO-blog-1One of the earliest pieces of advice I was offered as a new CEO was to never deliver the bad news.  I could not have received worse, or more outdated counsel.

CEO’s today cannot afford to hide behind press releases or an appointed spokesperson
for the organization.  They must demonstrate strong and accountable leadership by taking responsibility, internally and externally, for the wins and losses of the company.

Boards of director’s have a responsibility to ensure that their CEO is able to perform their public role, and bring to the organization strong communications and public relations skills.  Regardless of sector or industry, when your company is under the spotlight, you have a responsibility to step forward as the CEO and represent actions of your company.

The media expect the CEO to play this role and so do your employees, shareholders, investors and the general public.  CEO’s must, at all times, demonstrate that they are in charge, and must exemplify grace under pressure.

They must be courageous and stand tall and communicate all of their organization’s key messages, in particular, in a time of discourse or crisis.

When it comes to your employees, they should not have to read about their workplace through the media, but should hear about significant company events and activities directly from the CEO.

With today’s technology, real time information should be provided to all your staff teams, notwithstanding their physical location.  As the CEO, you should be making use of videoing your messages for the staff, utilize Skype services, Twitter and Facebook.

The tools for a CEO to communicate en masse have never been more accessible – you just have to do it!

Today’s CEO must understand that this is, and always has been, part of your responsibility and will be held accountable for all messaging, so you must make the time to develop and internal and external communications strategy, and keep it current.

For many CEO’s, communications is not a natural core competency, and takes them out of their comfort zone.  Everyone is not media or public relations savvy.  However, it is now a fundamental role and responsibility for today’s real leaders.

Take a course, hire a PR coach, embrace this part of the job. If the CEO is not acting as the key spokesperson and chief communications officer for the company, they are not performing as a leader, and this will ultimately impact the Board and the entire organization.

Article was originally written for www.boardroommetrics.com.

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