While the ability to communicate – and do it extremely well – ranks highly on the remit of any Comms Director, there are several other finely-honed skills and carefully cultivated qualities that make the real star performers stand out.
As Stephen R. Covey points out in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we are trained to read and write and spend years learning how to speak, but what are we trained in the art of listening? Most of us listen with an intent to reply so that we can get our own point across. The key to being a truly skilled listener, as an accomplished Comms Director will know, is to listen with a view to understanding. When you truly understand what the other person is saying then you will be understood. A Comms Director who listens will know what is important to the team and know how to get the very best out of them – and help them get the most out of their roles.
2. Team building
“Two heads are better than one” - building a truly effective team is both an art and a science. It takes a special kind of leader with unique competencies and skills to do this. It does not happen by bringing together a group of talented and smart people, sticking them in the same room and leaving them to it. It’s a continuous process. A savvy Comms Director will want to know how each member of the team thinks, what defines their strengths and capabilities, how their skills can be utilised and further developed and what is required to motivate them to excel. In successfully creating an atmosphere where the team listens to, cares for and supports each other, they will interact together genuinely and produce far better results than they would individually.
3. Relationship building
Any Comms Director worth their salt will be dedicated to developing relationships with C-suite, internal and external stakeholders, their team and the media. Sound counsel will fall on deaf ears if they have not established strong relationships. Influencing an internal stakeholder is far easier if the Comms Director is well respected and trusted in the first place. Being empathetic and considerate towards others, making them feel at ease, keeping listeners engaged and remembering details from previous conversations will all go a long way towards gaining that respect and trust.
Showing that there is fire in your belly and a genuine hunger for success has a huge impact on business – a Comms Director who truly loves what they do will grab the role by both hands and drive the business forward, and in doing so, will not only fuel the team’s passion but also bring about better relationships all round.
A smart Comms Director will also be passionate about taking the time to celebrate successes. By pushing the boat out from time to time and giving the team the chance to let off some steam and spend time with each other in a more relaxed setting, everyone can come away feeling appreciated and all the more motivated to perform even better.
When all is said and done, the very best Comms Directors are magnetic personalities that exude dynamism, passion and enthusiasm. They are experts in their fields; able to explain complex topics in a way that their audience understands. They are both interesting – wonderful storytellers with the ability to be serious or inject humour where appropriate – and interested – they want to listen to what others have to say. They have the ability to judge people very accurately which makes it easy to get people on side. The savvy Comms Director knows just when to switch on the charm – and in exactly what measure – to influence those around them and get exactly want what they want.
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