The Best Communicators Have The Longer View
Contrary to conventional wisdom, creativity is not always the key skill in communications.
Along with the CEO, the communicator is the Executive Committee member who must have the best peripheral and depth vision.
Firstly, only the CEO1 and the communicator are managing all the internal and external audiences of their company. The other EXCOM members are limited in that respect by their specialty (the CHRO2 manages the talents of the company, the CFO3 its financial markets, the CSO4 its customers, the CPO5 its suppliers and so on) or their field of activity (business units’ executives only cover part of their company’s markets).
Moreover, a communicator must always strategize over the long run.
Indeed, our brains classify the stimuli they receive into categories of things that have already been learned. That allows us to anticipate and prepare for events that we will have to deal with. It also allows us to manage an environment that would be overwhelming if each new stimulus was an unknown experience. In order to do this, the brain functions through the use of analogies and metaphors. It links different stimuli together and analyses the similarities, the differences and the relationships between them. In this way, we classify our feelings automatically and unconsciously into categories that we have learned and that we modify over time.
The objective of communications is to create a memory. Studies in neuroscience have shown that, in order to create a durable memory, it is important to link the new information to those that already exist. The brain chooses to manage the information that is the closest to its previous experience: A message that is not coherent with previous messages is more likely to be ignored by the brain than a coherent message that makes sense. One cannot expect people to make coherent sense of messages that were not created coherent in the first place. In order to keep communications on track, one needs to have a clear track to follow.
This is why I am convinced that a communicator is a provider of meaning to their company’s audiences. Obviously, that role is all the more important as the aggravation of information overload makes it more difficult to detect the meaning conveyed by organizations and individuals.
Ultimately, the best communicators are those who have the longer view in breadth (to take into account all the stakeholders of their company) and depth (to think over the long run).
Creativity is therefore both a threat and an asset for communicators.
It is an asset because, in the age of attention economy, a brand must be very creative to stand out from the corporate crowd. But it is also a threat because communicators who excessively focus on creative ideas overlook their long-term strategy.
1 And, of course, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) if the company has one.
2 Chief Human Resources Officer.
3 Chief Financial Officer.
4 Chief Sales Officer.
5 Chief Procurement Officer.