There is an interesting piece of research that has been released by VMA earlier this week. It is taken from discussions with many Chief Executives about what they are expecting from their head of communication. I would recommend reading it as there is a lot of useful information within the report some of which I would have guessed and others that are more of a surprise.
One thing struck me loud and clear from the information and that is the importance of challenge. Being able to challenge those in the boardroom is seen as an essential part of the make up of any head of communication. Those in charge want people to have clear views, be able to articulate them and feel able to challenge the considered wisdom and ‘way we do things’ mentality.
It is something that I firmly agree with. All communication and PR roles need to be carried out with strong ethics and a sense of what is right. The key is to be able to provide an alternative viewpoint convincingly and not to be swayed by the hierarchy of the organisation. If something is not right then we need to say so, if elements haven’t been considered we need to raise them, if the voice of the customer or service user has been ignored we have to include it.
None of this is easy. It requires confidence. Confidence in your own ability and confidence to speak openly within the organisation. You need to have no concerns about the next paycheck. You need to be prepared to stand up and be counted when others may fall away.
It is pleasing to know that this strength is now being recognised as an essential characteristic of heads of communications. But it comes with a huge responsibility and the need to have buckets of resilience to call upon when things become difficult. I would recommend you find the VMA research to look at the other skills, knowledge and experience that is being valued by those at the top of businesses from the modern senior communicator role.