5 Leadership Principles for Communications Directors

I thought I’d shift gears a little this week.

Normally, I give you how-to’s and whatnots and whosiewhatsits about communications, but this week, I have a little something different on my heart.

Leadership is tough in this role, isn’t it? You’re supposed to make decisions on communications issues but then there’s someone who can come in and tell you “no, don’t do the awesome thing, do the lame thing” and you kinda have to do it.

Whether we lead a comms team or we are the comms team, we have to interact with staff, pastors, bosses, and administrative assistants…and that requires leadership. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few principles that I manage to get right at least 40% of the time now and I’ll share them with you.

Prepare thyself for 5 Leadership Principles for any Communications Director!

Feedback is Your Responsibility

As a leftover 90’s grunge rock fan, I like a lot of feedback. Especially when it comes from those who I report to (and a Fender Deville). But let’s face it, bosses aren’t always great about giving good feedback.

If you are in a situation without a healthy system for review, feedback, or instruction, your job is not to complain about it. Your job is to seek feedback out. You’ll have to be proactive unless you like surprises like “we just don’t feel like you fit here anymore,” which is a nice way of saying “we don’t like what you do or how you do it, so stop.”

Communications is a position on the team

Just like any other position, Communications is just a member of a team. When the kids ministry fails to communicate well in your church, you know who’s fault that is? It’s at least 50% ours!

We are coaches for communications to all the other departments, even when they aren’t coachable and we aren’t great teachers. Our job is to help every department succeed in communicating clearly with the most impact they can. If they fail, we fail, and you need to feel that. 

There’s always time for Slides

When you get to communicate big changes or difficult information to your staff, leadership, or your church, make slides. Make something that helps guide them through the information so that they can grasp the concepts you’re trying to teach quickly and get on board with you fast.

For example, when you’re introducing a promotional tiers system or discussing the need for everyone to start a Facebook group, don’t just say it in a meeting in passing. Show them how important it is by putting some effort into how we present the idea. Ask your pastor for a few minutes of the meeting and take them through some data on slides showing why you need the change and then propose it.

It sounds silly, but demonstrating the fact that you’re willing to make a whole presentation on something should make them perk up and pay attention or at least communicate that you’re serious. 

Choose your Battles

If you’re the kind of person who has to win every argument, then you’re probably going to struggle with this one. Sometimes, it’s not about being right, it’s about being a good neighbor to your coworkers.

Some arguments are central and are hills worth dying on, but some are not. If you have to die on every hill, you’ll find that most people will start to avoid dealing with you and start going around you. That’s a bad situation. Take a loss here and there that aren’t central to the vision and let them call their fundraiser the Bean-O-Rama this time.

Stop saying “we”

I recently came across an article on this that made me stop and self-evaluate a little. I sent it to my team with a note that simply said, “I think I do this a little. I’ll get better.”

In meetings, I realized that I say “we” a lot. Here’s what it sounds like:

We need to get those banners done

We need to change the posters out.

We need to get our brand standards finished.

We need to pull the fire alarm today so we can go home early.

None of those are wrong, they just don’t indicate who will be doing those tasks. Sometimes when I was saying “we” what I meant was “you.” But my team didn’t know that, so they always had to follow up. No good.

John, can you make sure those banners get done?

Rose, will you change the posters out?

I’m going to work on brand standards today and send them to all of you when I’m done.

Be specific. It helps everyone.What leadership principles have you learned in communications lately? Share them in the comments below or join The Seminary of Hard Knocks Facebook Group and let’s talk about it there! Thanks for reading!

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