Helping your CEO to be a great communicating leader

Date posted: 3 July 2017  |  Posted in: Leadership

So Glassdoor has announced the winners of its annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honouring the Highest Rated CEOs in 2017. The Awards are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback on their CEO’s leadership.

Check out the UK Top 50 here . I was particularly delighted to see my former AXA colleague and Internal Comms Team client Phil Loney CEO of Royal London in the Top 50 – well deserved recognition!

It also got me thinking about the role we can play as internal communicators to support CEOs in becoming great communicators, an essential part of their leadership toolkit. Some like Phil are naturals when it comes to communicating, but as we all know, others are less so and need our guidance and support to ensure they meet their peoples’ expectations.

It’s the job of IC leaders to make it easy for their CEO to communicate by creating opportunities for them to connect with their people. Because as our internal comms reviews for clients across various sectors show, connecting with the CEO and the leadership team is one of the top ‘wants’ for employees.

So here‘s the top 3 things on my to do list for CEO visibility:

Rhythm of face to face

Ensure that your CEO has regular opportunities to connect with colleagues through a rhythm of formal and informal sessions e.g. leaders events / town halls / employee road shows. I’m a strong believer in having a clear, consistent, published face to face programme so people know when their next opportunity is to connect with the CEO / Executive team.

Listening time

CEOs are often good at presenting their vision, strategy and priorities – but typically don’t spend as much time listening to employee’s views on those priorities and their daily experience serving customers, delivering projects etc. We regularly recommend sessions such as ‘Listening Lunches’ where after a brief introduction, the role of the CEO is just to listen. Without exception participating CEOs tell me they find these sessions invaluable and so do employees who feel their voice is being heard on key issues. It ensures the CEO is connected to and having an ongoing dialogue with the front-line – essential in my view.

Visible online

With enterprise social networks like Yammer becoming more and more common, support and encourage your CEO to be online regularly, liking peoples’ posts, congratulating people on successes, blogging on key issues, reflecting on communication sessions, and asking for people’s views on issues. If you don’t have an ESN they can still do a regular blog for the intranet. If they’re not comfortable writing blogs, take a brief and draft it for them to finalise and put their own stamp on it!


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