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Business Leaders need to STOP hiding

Over the last decade, there’s been a significant movement and expectation of business leaders to stop hiding behind their desks. We as consumers, expect the CEOs, managing directors, executives, and the like, to be able to front up and be accountable in the media, at events, in meetings, and in front of clients and stakeholders.

Communications experts will tell you that during a crisis we don’t want to hear from brands, we want to hear from people. A media release or an email on company letterhead won’t cut it as a response. This applies across the board – leaders across all sectors need to be present in all situations, not just in a crisis.

No longer do we consider it ‘lucky’ as a business to have a media friendly and ready executive, it’s now often in the job description of the role. In fact, for many executive positions today, having a successful relationship with the media is a personal brand asset and a reason why a candidate will stand out from others.

The last two years has made it possible for those reclusive and introverted leaders to enjoy a holiday period from getting up and making themselves known. We left that to the politicians to work our way through this pandemic and while they did a relatively sound job, their leadership is too often steered by their political persuasion. The time is now for our current and future business leaders to step up.

There are simple steps for any leader looking to raise their profile and it starts with seeing it as an obligation to their audience, rather than a task. This want and willingness is critical for authentic positioning as an expert, leader, and the voice of your industry. A leader without this mindset can be more of a liability than an asset when it comes to communication, as audiences today can very quickly sniff out someone that is presenting against their will.

There are skills that you will want to master now that you are wanting to put yourself out there. A leader needs to be a good communicator and understand what the audience is looking for. They’re not looking for the perfect keynote speech or TEDx talk, they’re looking for the ‘authentic you’, and the language and messaging needs to be planned and delivered with the unique presentation skills of each leader. Investing in media and presentation training is wise and some of the best leaders do this each and every year. We can all improve, even when we think we’ve mastered it.

Like anything that’s successful in business, leaders need to respect the process and make time for it. Media is always looking for experts that are available and not difficult to engage. Lawyers and health professionals tend to be the most difficult leaders to pin down for contribution due to workload and less flexibility in their daily routines. They also tend to be the most desired in media. The more available you are, the more success you will have as a thought leader.

These adjustments are all you really need as the business owner or chief executive of your brand. When an industry leader is front and centre, it’s a sure way to build rapport, confidence, and authority.

Covid is no longer an excuse to retreat to the bunker and hide away, and for those reclusive leaders, it’s going to take a significant shift in thinking and practice.

Written by Nic Hayes, MD of Media Stable

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