The Positive Impact of Executive Leadership and Visibility

The Positive Impact of Executive Leadership and Visibility

Business executives, often referred to as “C-suite” executives, serve important roles within their organization, from overseeing business operations to making real-time decisions in times of crisis. They also serve as chief sponsors and champions of their organizations, helping to provide resources and remove barriers to propel their business forward. More importantly, they play a major role in influencing company culture, as well as defining and executing their company’s mission and vision.

While many organizations think they have a strong executive leadership strategy in place, they often overlook the most critical aspect: executives must be regularly visible and communicating with their employees. Employees look to their senior leaders for support and guidance, both in times of stability and in times of stress. According to Haiilo, an employee communications platform, 81% of employees say that they would rather choose a company that encourages open communication than a company that has good perks such as health plans, free food, and gym memberships. Senior leaders who are present and maintain regular touchpoints with employees can help establish trust and build connections from the top down.

Set An Executive Strategy – And Stick With It 

Before diving into how to enhance executives’ visibility, it’s important to first establish an executive engagement strategy. When doing so, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Set CEOs and other C-suite leaders up for success from the get-go by taking the time to understand their personal communication skills and style to develop an authentic voice.
  • Once a strategy is set, stick to it in cadence, platform, and tone. Nothing undermines credibility more than inconsistency.
  • Remember that CEOs and key leaders must be visible in both good and bad times to build a foundation of trust and transparency when challenges arise.
  • For senior leaders, being present doesn’t just mean speaking to employees, it also means taking the time to listen and gather feedback with the intent to enact meaningful change.

If extra support is needed establishing an executive leadership strategy and understanding leaders’ voices, consider partnering with a firm well versed in executive communications. At IRI Consultants, we help executives feel comfortable and confident being the vocal leaders of their organization, teaching storytelling techniques to forge strong connections between themselves and all employees.

Prioritize Executive Visibility Opportunities 

Establishing familiarity between executives and employees provides a foundation of trust and commitment that serves the organization well, whether facing an organizing drive, corporate campaign, or other employee relations challenge.

However, creating this environment of trust and familiarity within a strong executive visibility program means more than simply meeting with people when it’s convenient. In addition to quality face time, visibility can be gained through voice, email, video, digital and social channels, and even written communications. For example, senior leaders should consider:

  • Conducting small-group listening sessions to gather feedback straight from employees
  • Engaging in Senior Leadership Rounding (for hospitals, specifically)
  • Eating lunch in an area frequented by employees, such as a cafeteria or breakroom
  • Writing personal notes for employees to celebrate wins and accomplishments like work anniversaries
  • Posting written or video messages on the Intranet or appropriate internal site, as well as external platforms like social media – specifically LinkedIn – or public-facing blog sites.
  • Sending regular communications (e.g., a monthly newsletter from the CEO)
  • Participating in team-building, luncheons, and other company-wide events
  • Publicly recognizing employee performance and milestones in forums like Town Halls

Remember, even the smallest touchpoints, like a social media post, can have a lasting impression. This is because employees want to see their leaders as real people – not as mysterious figureheads who only pop up once a quarter to share business updates.

Minimize Unionization Threats With Present Leaders 

Importantly, organizations that successfully “brand” their CEO and key members of the senior leadership team create a natural buffer to the type of personal attacks waged by unions in most corporate campaigns. Such attacks often call into question the leaders’ motives, priorities, and commitment to employees and the community.

Organizations can position their executives  and all organizational leaders for success by providing the necessary training and resources to increase comfort level, enhance knowledge, and build skills to engage employees in conversations regarding difficult subjects, including unions and unionizations. If the executive has established a basis of trust by being visible, employees will look to that executive for guidance on whether a union would be truly beneficial. Since employees have experienced a direct relationship with executives, they will be reluctant to invite a union to interfere with it.

Ultimately, the best advice is to keep it simple and don’t overthink. Don’t underestimate the value of a simple action like adding another table to a lunch area and encouraging senior leaders to send out a few lunch invitations.  

At IRI, we’ve given C-suite executives the tools and support they need to be true champions for their organizations. We believe every business is different, and each requires its own holistic and customized approach to communications. Whether you need an internal communications assessment, guidance in developing your internal communications strategy or social media strategy, digital media intelligence, crisis communications services, media relations, or media training, we have expert communications consultants who can quickly provide a specialized solution. Contact us online today to discuss the next steps, or give us a call at (313) 965-0350.

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