What drives success in our profession?
This has been on my mind lately because as I’ve talked with so many different people the topic has been raised. How does one become successful in corporate communications? What skills does one need? I will argue that it comes down to motivation.
I believe that motivation is a key driver. And motivation is needed due to the demands of the 24-hour news effect, globalization, and the rising importance of communication as a management function. The bottom line I believe is that motivated communicators are the ones helping organizations succeed.
Here are 10 ideas I think can motivate you to be successful:
1. Leadership: Effective leadership allows communicators to transcend geographies, organizations, and cultures. It will produce desired results despite the ambiguity and level of risk. The key is to be a true leader.
2. Relationship building: Having a significant personal network of people will continue to be a smart way for communicators to operate successfully in their careers. Remember that relationships—supported by action steps–are the basis of personal credibility.
3. Learning: Communicators need to understand how they learn, from the point of view of both effectiveness and efficiency. Are you considering degrees in higher education in order to advance your knowledge? Are you actively engaged in learning about the details of how your organization operates and generates revenue? Are you looking for ways to expand your knowledge is other fields and areas of interest such as technology, psychology, social issues and international trends?
4. Business acumen: Communicators must be able to talk with businesspeople in their language. But even more important, they must understand the industry, where their companies play in that industry, their unique selling proposition, how they make money, and what their customers are like. How else can they possibly understand where communication can help add to the revenue stream? Public relations is a unique profession that is in a demanding position to understand the intricacies of a business, including legal, product development, regulatory, human resource and financial/investor relations.
5. International cultures: Globalization will require that we learn to work with and understand international cultures. The “our way” of thinking will not always bring success in how we run our business or in how we develop and nurture our relationships.
6. Listening: The skill of listening can be key to gaining influence. Communictors need to hear what’s not just expressed in words–but also body language, tone being used, etc. Too often, we’re busy determining what we’re going to recommend next, rather than understanding what is being said, in order to influence management.
7. Mentoring: If public relations is going to contribute to an effective organization, we have to mentor the next generation of communicators. The real legacy a person leaves is an effective, skilled organization – not just communication skills but business skills as well. Keep in mind this is a two-way street — I have learned many things from people just coming into this profession simply from questions they ask. We should encourage that.
8. Project management: The emphasis of the future has to be in the leadership and interpersonal skills that ensure sound project-management practices. Projects fail because relationships and expectations fail.
9. Trust: This is a necessity as change becomes our steady diet. Communicators will not be able to lead others through changing times and situations if they cannot learn to earn trust and be trusted.
10. Producing results: Successful communication leaders will get results by setting the direction, aligning the people, and motivating them to produce results. Helping drive the value of communications throughout the business and providing business value – not just media relations value – is a factor to success.
To be effective, communicators also need to understand what motivates their teams within the context of the roles they perform. Knowing “how” and “why” to motivate employees is an important skill. Motivation is complex but important. What are your thoughts? What motivates you?
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