The song “Walk it Talk it,” is currently my son’s favorite song. It’s a catchy refrain that reminds me that we should all “walk the talk” or have our actions mirror our words. As corporate communication professionals, many times our role is to ensure that the executives we counsel “walk the talk” successfully. Here are a few ways that we can make this happen.
Understand what’s important
Before writing anything for your executive client, get to know him or her first. Use your interview time to learn what is important to them, and how they want to be portrayed. Do they prefer a more casual or formal tone? How do they want employees or stakeholders to see them? Look at what they’ve written in the past and discuss theme, tone and intention. It’s important to understand an executive’s core values and how to weave them into communications.
Keep them in their comfort zone
When photographing your client or hosting an employee event, ensure your executive is at ease. If your client isn’t a natural outdoorsman, then don’t ask them to host a fishing outing. I know one executive who is most comfortable when being physically active and this is where she is the most natural. Another executive thrives on meeting new people and shines during these interactions.
Maintain consistent messaging
Once your executive agrees to a message, ensure that this message is used in all communications on that topic. It’s confusing to employees to hear their leader say one thing to them, but the media is sharing an alternate story. Maintain credibility with consistency. If an inconsistent message is shared, have your executive address it immediately and explain.
Remind them how to demonstrate company values
If the company is promoting work-life balance, gently remind leaders that they need to take time for family and personal life. It sends a mixed message if they are always sending emails after hours or are burning the midnight oil every night. Write out reminders for each company value and how the executive can demonstrate that value in real life. In speeches, have them talk about their families and interests and maybe their personal struggles with balance.
It’s easy to forget to “walk the talk,” but it’s worth it. Most people want to work for engaged leaders who manage with integrity and demonstrate the core values of their organizations. By coaching executives to be authentic in their communications and actions, you are helping them lead by example and build stronger connections with their employees, creating a stronger organization in the process.
Author: Nicole Lillis