CEO = COO: Chief Communications Officer | Mark MacLeod

July 8, 2020 - Mark MacLeod

CEO = CCO: Chief Communications Officer

The higher up you are in a company org chart, the more your role is about communication vs. execution. Nowhere is this more true than for the CEO.

As soon as you are into scaling mode (post-product-market fit) and you begin building a true leadership team around you, your role should pivot swiftly from execution to communication. That’s why the CEO role should be synonymous with that of a Chief Communications Officer, or CCO.

Why is communication important in leadership?

A CEO never stops communicating:

Communicating the vision and mission to current and potential employees

Communicating the vision, mission and traction to current and potential investors

Communicating vision, mission & values to employees (again and again) so that the team has a common framework for decision-making

Communicating value proposition to potential parters

You basically can’t over-communicate. This is especially true during challenging times and if your company is in hyper-growth mode (since you are continually adding new people).

The stakes are high with CEO communication. You are liable to be misinterpreted. So you need to communicate the same message repeatedly. Junior employees especially will need to hear from you many times in order to get the message and begin thinking in the way you want them to.

Three steps of effective CEO communication

With any audience, but especially with senior ones such as the management team, board & investors, follow the three steps of effective communication:

Tell me what you are about to tell me (TL: DR, exec summary)

Tell me (or ideally show, not tell)

Tell me what you told me (recap, conclusions)

Reflecting on CEO communication with employees

Questions to consider

When is the last time I communicated the vision, mission and values to my team?

How much has the team grown since then? How many people have not heard from me?

Are team members making decisions that align with our mission, vision and values?

Does the whole company have clarity around our vision, mission, values and key priorities?

Do I feel sick of hearing myself say the same things over and over again? (if not, then you are not even close to communicating enough…).

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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