Hard-Wire Your Communication Skills to Your Bottom Line Results
Written by David Casullo
This is your goal.
You want to leverage your vision, your passion, and a powerful story to develop a 30-second message that speaks to the hearts and minds of your audience and catalyzes action from all your important stakeholders.
In business, the sole measure of your effectiveness as a communicator is how well your message, your timing, your delivery, your style, and your subsequent behavior marshals the actions of people to drive tangible results.
Take some time to think about how you can promote your resonating culture with all of your important audiences.
1. Think about your most important audiences: employees, customers, vendors, investors. Which of these audiences needs a transfusion of resonating energy the most?
2. Once you’ve identified that audience, write down the top three needs, questions, or concerns from the toughest or most skeptical members of that group.
3. Craft a short speech to that audience. It doesn’t have to be long—maybe six to eight sentences. It should include:
- An acknowledgment of a key concern, issue, fear, or question that this group feels.
- Your core truth as informed by your personal truths and all that you learned from your study of legends as well as from internal and external stakeholders.
- How this truth connects or motivates you to address the concern, issue, fear, or question that you identified.
4. Once you’ve completed refining this statement, reflect on it. What impact would this statement have on your audience? When you’ve crafted your statement properly, your audience feels what you feel. Have you given your audience something to rally around, as with empowering people through communication?
To begin, establish a powerful message that ties your personal truths to the organizational truths. The personal truths you would die for are powerful; your organization’s truths are also powerful. To leverage the combined power of both, and to use the power of communication to send your amplifying energy out over the channel that is your organization’s atmosphere, you must convey a clear, compelling message that resonates with everyone who can bring the desired end state to reality. This cascading energy will, in turn, energize everyone in and around your organization. When you get it right, you will have created the capacity by which unlimited energy can and will be carried to everyone in and around your company.
Think of your communication as though you were Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking into a microphone on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, sending out a message that resonated with a nation. When you master the art of communication, it is powerful, and triggers a cascading effect. You get employees buzzing about why “it’s good” for them personally.
By reaching them at the level of their own personal truths, you stimulate their energy and gain their commitment. By reaching their hearts, you flip the switch of their self-motivation and focus their minds on the actions that are important to driving value. You get them working together in the spirit of shared purpose and camaraderie. You reduce the fear and negative assumptions that come from lack of clarity. Nothing derails morale and diminishes energy like distrust. When your communication is consistent and clear, you create trust and employee engagement.
In 2010 Gallup did some research on employee engagement and determined that “engaged” organizations have 3.9 times the earnings-per-share growth rate compared with that of organizations with lower engagement in their same industry. World-class organizations have a roughly 10-to-1 ratio of engaged to disengaged employees, while average organizations have a ratio of about 2 to 1. Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies roughly $800 billion in productivity annually.
Bottom line—and I do mean quite literally the bottom line—it’s your ability to communicate that has the greatest impact on engagement. In the organizational symphony, your voice is a powerful instrument that can inspire energy and emotion in your listeners. Communicate meaning, not just information, and see the power your words truly have to create the economic results you seek.
Business can be the means to exercise what is most important—to you and to those you lead. The economic results are your scorecard. The real value comes from the impact you have on the world, not so much the business. Steve Jobs said, “I want to make a ding in the universe.” Vince Lombardi said, “We are going to relentlessly chase perfection . . . because in the process we will catch excellence.”
What do you say?
About the Author: David Casullo is president at Bates Communications, a national consulting firm specializing in leadership communication skills and strategy. His passion is developing leaders who have the courage and capability to change the world. His most recent book, “Leading the High-Energy Culture,” has just been published by McGraw-Hill. Dave can be reached at [email protected].
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.