Do you consider yourself a good communicator? Do you enjoy spending time on this or is it a distraction and you’d rather just be doing your thing? If you lead or wish to lead a company some day, your job will be largely a communications role – especially as your company grows. All the stakeholders of a company rely on clear, consistent communication in order to engage and work with that company. In many cases, that communication must come from the CEO. For example:
Employees: Clearly communicating reasons why they should join your company and once they are on board, communicating goals, deliverables, priorities. There is nothing more demotivating to your staff than not knowing what the goals are or why you are doing something. How does my individual job or task fit into the big picture? Even if you have a management team beneath you, putting the pieces together and communicating the strategy and tactics is a big part of the CEO’s job.
Customers and Partners: Communicating what makes your company and its solution better. What are its features, advantages, benefits? What can the customer or partner gain from working with you? Explaining your pricing plan. The list of things to communicate is endless.
Press: When the press / blogosphere takes an interest in your company, they only want to hear from one person: the CEO. You need to invest the time here. You need to give countless interviews. And in each one you need to be “on message”. Saying the same thing over and over again.
Investors: This is a huge and often frustrating part of a CEO’s job – investor communication. But the fact is, if they don’t clearly understand the priorities, strategy, results, bad things will happen to you and your company. We fear what we don’t know. And when investors don’t know exactly what’s happening with their money, they put the brakes on. You need to spend time both at board meetings and in between keeping them in the loop on your progress.
More fundamentally, investor communication begins and ends with clearly and simply explaining your business. You spend all day every day thinking about your business. If its a startup, your business will change regularly. The strategy and priorities will all change. You need to keep your investors up to date on all this. They spend only a small portion of their time with you. So, you need to clearly and quickly get them up to speed.
So, if you want to be CEO of a company you had better be prepared to spend a lot of time communicating and the success of your company will be highly correlated to the strength of your communication skills.