Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CNO understands the information age - Embrace the change.

Leaders have to lead by example and be part of engaging a wide array of audiences, and they must approach it with eagerness – not defensiveness or trepidation. The key to success as a leader is to recognize that there is an opportunity – indeed an obligation – to listen to your people, to add another dimension to your awareness.

Listening doesn't just make for better leaders, it makes for better organizations. Your people expand your entire organization's ability to listen to each other and others outside the organization, but only if you empower them to do so.

When talking about transparency, most organizations only think about being more clear and open to others who are looking in. The more valuable transparency also looks outward, and allows the world outside the organization to be more open to those within the organization. If you empower those you lead to listen, you don't have a one-way mirror where others can see in to your organization but you can't see out – you let your people be your open window to the world. In doing so, you stand to benefit from perspectives of those outside your immediate circle. Many leaders already do this when we seek alternative analyses as input to our decision-making, presumably because we are conscious of how complex the issues are. We are somehow less aware – or too comfortable with what we think we know – about our institution's core competencies, when by opening our aperture on daily activities we might gain from allowing the people we lead to help us connect to the communities we serve.

The final challenge is that as a leader, especially leaders in public service, now more than ever, you have to guard against the temptation of making it about you. Egos are certainly not new to leaders – even some generals and some admirals have been known to have them – but new social media tools, the power of networks, and the reach of the hubs within those networks, can allow leaders to take on almost celebrity status.
Many of our organizations have focused on leaders as communicators. Now, we have the chance to be leaders of communicators. If we recognize the opportunities inherent in this reality, we will be more effective as leaders… our organization will more skillfully inform… and our people will be the key to our communication success, just as they are the key to our success in all things.
The CNO's entire speech at the Strategic Communications Summit is HERE.  Well worth reading.

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