One of the questions I love to ask a roomful of senior leaders when I’m delivering an interactive presentation is, “What is it that only you can do?” It’s a positional question, not a personal question. Because each of those leaders is the current incumbent in the leadership role they’re in, there are certain things that only they can do given the resources, opportunities, authority, information and access that come with the role.
I ask the leaders to shout out things that come to mind as they consider the question. Some of the more common answers include things like goal setting, developing the team, coaching, performance management and setting the organizational climate. When we’ve gotten to 10 or 12 answers, I’ll usually add one that hardly ever comes up but, once they hear it, everyone agrees with.
My contribution to the list is “If you’re the leader, you’re the chief marketing officer for your team.” Think about it for a moment. If you’re not telling your team’s story, who is?
There are a lot of people who need to hear your team’s story. Your boss needs to hear it so she can keep her boss up to date. She also needs to know who your stars are. Your peers need to hear your team’s story so that they can make the connections between the work of their teams and the work of yours. Finally, your team needs you to share their story so they know you’re paying attention and are acting as their advocate.
So, how do you tell your team’s story without looking like your blowing your own horn? Put it in context. In busy organizations, the work doesn’t just speak for itself; you have to speak for the work. The effective and welcome way to speak for the work is to put it in a context that other people care about.
Here’s a checklist of questions to consider and answer when you’re preparing to speak for your team’s work and act as their chief marketing officer:
- Who needs to know about your team’s work?
- What do they care about?
- What is your team doing that tracks with what they care about?
- What progress have you made so far or since the last update?
- What major obstacles have you overcome?
- What are your next steps? How do they support the goal?
- What requests do you need to make in support of the next steps?
What work is your team doing that you need to speak for this coming week?
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