Learning from Leaders


Yesterday I attended a celebration event for theblueballroom who are celebrating 10 years this year. They invited clients and partners in the industry to an afternoon of strawberries and cream and the opportunity to learn from fellow leaders. Speakers included Dean Capon, Corporate Affairs Manager at Roche, Christina Fee, Head of Internal Communication at EasyJet, Christopher Wade, Senior Team Leader, Internal Comms at DPDHL and Friedrich-Georg Lischke, CEO Mars Drinks Europe.

Facilitated by MD of theblueballroom, Sheila Parry, there were some great insights and thought-provoking learnings shared…

“When one of your employees says they love their job, your work is done”. A key message from the afternoon was around the importance we play, as communicators in engagement.

Integrating Internal Comms into the Business

Dean Capon took to the stage to talk about his learnings in integrating internal comms into the business. He had six main points which were definitely worth sharing:

  1. World blocks: As internal communicators we can often blame the environment we are in for not driving the agenda forwards. Don’t blame things on the external environment.
  2. The importance of delivery: Delivering on time and on budget are important, but also delivering consistently throughout your career will create a ’emotional bank account’. The emotional bank account is really about trust and as you consistently perform, leaders will trust you more and they will make deposits in your bank account – using your expertise and listening to your view.
  3. Ask for a seat: After two weeks in his role (Dean had been with Roche for 13 years and had been in many different roles in the business) Dean asked his boss if he could have a seat at the board. He explained he would not expect any voting rights, he would leave the room if they wanted to discuss confidential items and he would also leave if they were discussing personnel issues. After one week, he got his answer and it was yes. Just ask, having a seat at that table and listening to those discussions is a great way to integrate into the business.
  4. Talk the language of the business and understand the business: The more you can do this, the more credibility you will have with those senior leaders
  5. Be a corporate citizen: This point was two-fold; one, be seen as someone who rolls their sleeves and gets on with it. Delivery of the task is more important than where you sit in the organisation. Two, don’t have any favourites. That is no favourite leader, department or team. Have loyalty to the whole business and what it is trying to achieve, have loyalty to all the employees in the business.
  6. Fill in the gaps: Make sure you develop yourself. Learn from your leaders but also learn from your peers and keep at the forefront of your industry.

 Some other good points from the event that started me thinking about working closer with leaders in the business:

  • Be credible, reliable and foster the community in the business
  • Get to know your leaders; their strengths, their human side and learn when and how to tell them what to do
  • Appeal to egos and work around their style – for honest communication you have to adapt your theory into their practice
  • Be a coach and an influencer
  • Tailor your style to the organisation you are in

There were some great stories shared by the leaders and some good debate about ROI for internal comms. But thinking back to the beginning, I would ask all of you, do you love your job? I know I do!

2 thoughts on “Learning from Leaders

  • There were some great presentations yesterday. Another good point was that leaders are sometimes ‘behind you’ – i.e. those ‘below’ you in the hierarchy also have so much knowledge and so much insight into the organisation that it’s important to remember that we all have much to learn from those around us – whatever their level.
    Cara, theblueballroom

  • Great post Jenni, thanks for sharing. Good to see some new phrases rather than the usual suspects that get overused. Sounds like a good session and I like Dean’s proactive example, Rachel.

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