How to improve strategic governance communication

How to improve the strategic governance communication
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As a CEO of a company you are in a unique position as a middle hand between several stakeholders, including owners, the board, the management team, as well as employees. You face demanding expectations and must be able to orient yourself in different group-dynamics. This article addresses issues that can arise from such expectations and how the CEO can improve strategic governance communication.

Is it really lonely at the top? 

The idiom “it is lonely at the top” has become a commonly used phrase amongst leaders. The expression stems from executives feeling disconnected from their colleagues, as well as not getting sufficient support from the board. These issues can stem from lack of confidence and open mindset regarding the role as a CEO. More importantly a lack of open communication.

For example, obeying authorities is deeply rooted into human behaviour, and colleagues or employees will relate differently to the CEO. As a decision maker, you have both control and responsibility for other people’s livelihood, thus resulting in distinct work relations. Furthermore, if the CEO is promoted within the company, previous close colleagues might turn into the contrary when their peer takes on an executive role. 

At the other end, leaders, and especially CEOs, have the same need for validation as any other employee. A common assumption is that the leader should be calm and controlled, even in times of turbulence. Yet, maintaining this ideal, while being in the delicate position as a CEO, can result in undesirable effects. This is where the board, and especially the chairman or chairwoman, need to support, evaluate and guide the CEO when it comes to specific challenges and macro environmental uncertainties. 

Confidence, an open mindset and communication are three pivotal factors to succeed with improving corporate governance communication. So the questions is, does it have to be lonely at the top, or is it a result of not knowing where to start? Let’s explore this topic in more detail. 

Three symptoms of poor strategic governance communication

The leader appears to be more confident than he or she is

While the CEO try to uphold a strong image, he or she might appear more confident than what is reality. Resulting in a negative spiral where the CEO takes on excessive responsibility, without asking for help. By trying to maintain an ideal image, it can actually showcase inauthenticity and foster a lack of trust among peers. This can occur towards employees, as well as the board. 

The leader finds it difficult to talk about challenging topics

The environment in which a CEO connects with peers can be hard to navigate. Certain topics can be difficult to discuss and are either ignored completely, or only discussed with some people. The CEO might rationalise certain topics and employees might avoid the discomfort of raising their concerns. We often see this example when it comes to strategy related topic. They believe that only some strategic aspects should be communicated to the organisation, which could omit important aspects of discussion.

There is a lack of open communication within the organisation

When the leader upholds a strict image, as well as a narrow mindset, the communication climate can be aggravated. It minimises transparency and hinders open communication, which are all important pillars in business governance. After all, every business grows in relation to its members’ capacity, and successful teams are built with honesty and openness. This is a crucial process to improve within the organisation, and it all starts with the CEO and management team. 

Start by focusing your attention on the management team

The instinctive desire to maintain a good relationship with your employees, while maintaining a strong leadership role for governance, can lead to several challenges for the CEO. It can foster a culture of silence, as well as a lack of clear expectations and responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top, but the communication has to start at the top – and the number 1 team for the CEO – the management team.  

Start the journey towards becoming a high performance team

It is important to create a strong management team to ensure trust and honesty. The team should be prioritised and considered as the number one team for creating a positive corporate culture. A high performing management team make great decisions, generate new ideas and gives constructive feedback. In the long-term, this will be the greatest investment you will ever do, in terms of steering towards common goals. 

Gage the current status within the management team 

To understand how the CEO, along with his or her management team, can start the process of improving the communication, a natural action is to evaluate the team through a situational assessment. This gives the management team an opportunity to raise any issues and opinions, generating an understanding of how they can optimise their work environment. The assessment will yield a safe space where all team members openly can acknowledge and exchange their thoughts. 

Create a safe space for your management team 

The first step in creating a high performing management team, is to ensure and create a safe space and build trust. A space where the management team can reflect on current challenges, share their thoughts and get insightful, constructive input. The trust can only be built by making sure that the management team works on group and team development. Get to know each other and understand the individuals that consist of your team. Safety among members in a group means they can participate without fear of belittlement or exclusion. 

Create a common vision and strategy

According to a survey cited in Harvard Business Review 72 percent of employees and 88 percent of those in senior roles want a leader who is looking forward. How the CEO communicates and shares the same vision with their management team is imperative for corporate governance success. When the management team has a safe space to communicate, it is easier to pave the way for a common vision and bring the company’s strategy forward. 

How Governance@Work can help you get started?

If you recognise yourself in the challenges of your role as the CEO and would like get support to focus on your management team for any strategic promote the climate within your management team, Governance@Work can be a good starting point to gage your current situation. 

With our  evaluation, you and your team can uncover important topics and will thus obtain a comprehensive basis to help you improve specific corporate governance perspectives. The perspectives will raise awareness of the current situation, provide a direction for your future strategic work, and promote the ability to discuss key problems in a safe and objective environment. 

If you want to learn more about Governance@Work dive into additional topics related to corporate governance on our blog.

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