September 04, 2018

Trust and Impact: The Key to Balanced Leadership Is Being Emotionally Aware AND Focused on Results

Virginia Mackin

Virginia Mackin
Principal/ Grace & Stone Communications

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All good leaders demand results. They want their teams to have impact….to get it done. Most demand, and receive, respect, but some want to win at all costs, are too “political” and, therefore, not trustworthy.

In the tough world of corporate management, however, the challenge – and the greatest opportunity – is for an executive to focus on tangible results while also having the sensitivity to be emotionally aware and trustworthy with staff and corporate colleagues.

In my experience, the most successful and respected leaders find this balance.

You have to be willing to see the organization and its people from all sides, eliminate defensive energy that can hurt a healthy working environment, and make sure your colleagues know – really know – you value their work and that they’re free to take risks, make mistakes and communicate openly about the challenges they’re facing.

For communications leaders, it’s also essential to be fully aligned with senior leadership and corporate culture – the philosophy and strategies, as well as the personalities. Then the department can do more meaningful work with fewer internal distractions and a greater sense of flow and collaboration.

When alignment and trust work: case in point

 

When I worked as a senior communications officer for a major financial services company, the CEO was preparing for an acquisition and wanted us to be viewed as a powerful organization and a great place to work.

The high value my department provided began during initial discussions between the merging parties – when we were overseeing and then assessing a 360º reputational risk assessment of all stakeholders, which laid the groundwork for an integrated stakeholder strategy. 

This work encouraged our board to approve the original merger agreement and reject an unsolicited third-party takeover bid. Plus, we were able to develop and implement an effective communications program for employees, customers, and shareholders of the merging organizations. All of this set the stage for a strong engagement and future success.

If we were pulled in when the sensitive deal was about to go through – indicating leadership’s lack of trust to manage confidential information – our team would have been less agile to respond to events effectively. And we would have felt undervalued. 

It’s really quite simple: low trust means a low-impact, just-in-time mentality from leadership. “Just get this done.” High-trust means there’s a partnership to assess a challenging situation and take appropriate, timely action. High impact. Together.

Which do you prefer?

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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