There’s something about receiving direct leadership communication that inspires motivation. Whether a subordinate agrees or disagrees with the leader’s message or intent, there is often a discrete reaction – either big or small – that is difficult to suppress. It may inspire a new way of thinking or a new path, or the message may cause undesired behaviors. Either way, when important announcements come from an organization’s leader, people pay attention.

Leadership Communication

Take current news stories or trending topics on social media. Regardless of your interests or preferred form of communication, we are all generally tuned in one way or another to the stories, posts, tweets, television appearances, podcasts, and press releases of local and national leaders. Traditional and social media experts understand this dynamic and put forth great efforts to capitalize on leaders' and influencers' actions to capture additional audiences, secure ratings, and design additional stories, content, and campaigns. Net-net: messages from leaders resonate with their followers.

The main focus of one of Parker Avery's points of view, “Enhancing the Value of Retail System Implementations,” is that for any strategic initiative, it is critical to secure strong and highly visible executive sponsorship – ideally at the executive level. Why? Because people pay attention to leadership.

Retail leaders considering a new solution implementation should take advantage of this mindset. In a recent Parker Avery client project, the team is near the end stages of a system selection, where the retailer is coming to some final decisions on the new system, implementation timing, resources, etc. A common theme between our point of view and planning discussions for the client’s system implementation is that project sponsorship and leadership must be at the highest levels possible.

If you are undergoing or planning a system implementation and want your organization to not only understand the changes but embrace the transformation, the project must be spearheaded from the very top. Without obvious sponsorship and concise leadership communication about the initiative, the result will be just new technology (and usually very expensive). However, with a solid project focus on delivering new business capabilities, supported by a defined change management plan that outlines key leadership communications, project stakeholders can successfully drive design decisions. These decisions ultimately become new business processes, and strategic, well-executed communications from project sponsors will promote organizational alignment and acceptance. This is very hard to effectively accomplish if the project is led by subordinate roles.

Executives also can initially “rally the troops” around the initiative as well as maintain the momentum, much more so than director or manager-level roles. We are not proposing that non-executive roles are not critical to the success of a solution implementation – quite the opposite, in fact. By virtue of having the strong support of executives, resources on the project team are typically perceived to have augmented importance within the company. It’s almost a snowball effect: as leadership communications tout project accomplishments and progress to the company as a whole, subordinates involved in the project are viewed as highly knowledgeable, yet approachable by associates not directly involved in the endeavor. They essentially become project “ambassadors” and can facilitate more informal conversations about the project to further acceptance, buy-in, engagement, and enthusiasm.

As a society, we listen to leadership. We pay attention to the actions of those in executive roles. And we typically make decisions or frame opinions based on leadership communication and actions. As you plan and move forward with your next big initiative – regardless of the solution – keep this mentality in mind.

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Tricia Gustin, Senior Director of Marketing

Tricia Gustin
Senior Director of Marketing

The Parker Avery Group is a leading retail and consumer goods consulting firm that transforms organizations and optimizes operational execution through development of competitive strategies, business process design, deep analytics expertise, change management leadership, and implementation of solutions that enable key capabilities.

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Published On: May 12, 2016Categories: Change Management, Communication, Leadership, Tricia Chismer Gustin