Every single one of my coaching clients face challenges with executive communications in one form or another. The most common contexts in which these issues come up include these two dimensions of personal branding and executive presence:
- Communicating in an executive fashion to be seen as a potential executive (i.e., ready for a promotion)
- Communicating with executive colleagues to earn credibility in senior leadership conversations
But what does good executive communication really look like in action? Most of the time, it starts with the bottom line.
Executive Communications Stems from Executive Thinking
There’s a reason the frontal lobe of the brain is called the home of the brain’s “executive function.” Executive mental functions such as communications, analysis and decision-making fundamentally relies on our brain’s ability to prioritize and sift through huge amounts of data and information served up by the rest of our brain in order to produce an outcome. These outcomes look like decisions, requests and actions.
Similarly, acting as a sort of “frontal lobe of the organization”, executives in companies lead most effectively and efficiently when they are focused on the outcomes (i.e., decisions, requests and actions), not the sifting and prioritizing necessary to inform the outcome. This is why most executives usually like to start with the end state of an analysis or recommendation and work backwards until they understand what they need to know to move to the outcome. In a perfect world, the executive trusts those who produce the information so much that they spend little time reanalyzing data and get right to the outcome.
If you’ve ever found an executive impatient with sorting through the details, it’s because they want to spend their time on outcomes.
Why is Executive Communications Difficult?
Of course, getting a recommendation ready for decision making never starts with the outcome. It starts with a clear understanding of the problem and moves linearly through gathering information, analyzing/running scenarios and — finally — a conclusion that produces…