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Be Heard: What Value Communications?

IABC is giving you a chance to be heard. Let us – and your peers – know how you demonstrate the value of communications.

Back in 2004, Stephen R. Covey – of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame – made a frightening observation about the prevailing state of organisational engagement.

“Harris Interactive recently polled 23,000 U.S. residents employed full-time within key industries and in key functional areas. Consider a few of their most stunning findings:

  • Only 37% said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
  • Only one in five was enthusiastic about their team's and organization's goals.
  • Only one in five said they have a clear "line of sight" between their tasks and their team's and organization's goals.
  • Only 15% felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals.
  • Only 20% fully trusted the organization they work for.

If, say, a soccer team had these same scores, only four of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only two of the 11 would care. Only two of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but two players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.

In a 2004 article for Fortune Magazine, Covey put this down to an industrial age culture prevailing in the information age. A culture where people are still seen as things (e.g. as an expense item on the P&L). Later, in a 2007 Forbes article, he talked about the work/life problems created by this culture and put forward four disciplines designed to arrest it  – focus on the wildly important, act on the lead measures, keep a compelling scoreboard and create a cadence of accountability.

But you could clearly add a fifth discipline to this… foster a culture of communication.  In fact, the observation above comes from Covey’s 2004 book, The 8th Habit, which he states is:

“Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”

It makes sense. After all, how does a company execute on its strategy – or anything else – without a workforce that knows what to do and is inspired to do it? How does a company make decisions or come together as a group of people without a clear identity that’s shared by all? How does a leadership team earn the trust of its people and stakeholders? How does a company build – and build support for – its products, plans or performance?

All of these things – and many more – would be impossible without the ability to speak and to listen… to communicate.

Covey’s observations underline why communication is critical to any business – and any other venture in life. It’s what makes the wheels go round.

And, if you look at the words of many of the world’s greatest thinkers, you can see this fact is widely recognised.

Take Jack Welch, who once said

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Or Stephen Hawking, who said:

"Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking."

Or Chad Smith, who said:

“Effective leadership is being able to move people from where they're at to where they want to go”

Or Deepak Chopra, who said:

“In all my research, the greatest leaders looked inward and were able to tell a good story with authenticity and passion.”

Be heard

There’s many ways to talk about the value of communications and we’d love to hear how you do it.

So be heard. Leave your comments either on this page or at the IABC Linkedin group page. Dare we say, it’s your chance to “find your voice and inspire other communicators to find theirs.”

Oh, and while you're at it, why not check out this article's companion piece? It's a short look at how the recent Federal Election demonstrated the power of communications.

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