Helping leaders lead requires the study of leadership. As a senior trusted strategic advisor I get to see and hear the information and advice given b

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Wednesday Wisdom 5

Helping leaders lead requires the study of leadership.

As a senior trusted strategic advisor I get to see and hear the information and advice given by all kinds of advisors and experts. I am often surprised, especially by my colleagues in public relations who, when they get to be with the boss, hip shoot. There’s just something about the communicators careers that allows us to make things up in almost every circumstance. Problem is, people in charge recognize this lack of knowledge and usefulness and reject it, as time wasting, pretty quickly.

Five crucial realities to keep in mind when you walk in the boss’s office:

1) All management problems, questions, issues, troubles are management problems, questions, issues and troubles before they are any other kind of problem, including communications.

2) If all you have is communications knowledge, you have little of value since virtually all leaders and senior managers believe that they are good if not great communicators. When you’re talking communications, rather than listening, leaders are debating in their minds how smart you are, or not; how useful you are, or not; how much better they are on the spot than you are; bottom line they all feel smarter than communicators.

3) Start where management is, from their perspective or you never will get together on a communication strategy. They simply will not call you until ready to tell you what to say. Being a former journalist or hot shot consultant are rarely special credentials among top managers. Your advice needs to be within the context of leadership and leadership issues.

4) Find another area of special expertise, and still seriously study leadership of all kinds. When the chips are really down, it’s never about what the media or critics are going to do, that’s totally predictable. The issue the leader is facing is their own survival. Their relationships with colleagues and peers and those more powerful than they are. This is a very different conversation.

5) One of the first questions I ask the CEO or senior leader when I meet them (I am only around there is trouble) is whether or not their parents are still living. If the answer is yes, my first question often is, “What is your mother’s reaction?” I never have to ask, “What were you thinking?” Their mothers have already asked that. Trust me when I tell you that when the bosses future is on the line, they’re on the phone with mom, first. Moms much more so than dads, even for senior female leaders.

Future topics:

• How do I get leaders to listen?
• How do I convince leaders to act?
• How do I change leaders’ minds?

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