Leading with the brand in mind: Presentation at IABC World Conference

Your brand is a compass for setting strategy, aligning action, and giving voice to what you stand for. A brand provides your organization with heart, spirit, and soul. How can you as a communication leader act in ways that align, reinforce, and amplify your brand? On June 13, 2017, I’ll be giving a talk on “Leading with the brand in mind” at the International Association of Business Communicators World Conference in Washington, DC. If you’re attending the conference, I hope you’ll join me at 3:30 pm on Tuesday. In this interactive session, we’ll explore the dual dimensions of brand–your organization’s brand and your personal brand. Come ready to share your experience, insights, and challenges. See Leading with the brand in mind for more information about this session. Download the io spark Leadership Brand Statement worksheet. Learn more about the IABC World Conference....
Organizational Change – Beyond Hard?

Organizational Change – Beyond Hard?

On April 11, I had the pleasure of speaking at the IABC Strategic Corporate Communications Leadership Summit in D.C. To introduce my topic of “Communicating Organizational Change,” I asked participants to complete a simple sentence: Change is… The potential responses were: A. Hard B. Pretty C. Pretty Darn Hard D. A Bit#h! E. Easy It may have been the audience of battle-tested communicators, but the responses were 99% D, and no Es. What does that say about our view of change? But what if we were to shift our mindset and instead of saying change is a Bit#h, we were to say change is “natural?” As natural as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly or the change of the seasons that cause the cherry blossoms to bloom each year. We all change and make transitions – from teenager to young adult, from being single to perhaps getting married, to becoming a parent, to losing a parent, etc. Each of these transitions is natural, organic–part of the human condition. The point is that we do change. But we change and adapt at our pace. For some it may take months to make the transition; for others it may take years. As we think about change and begin to shift our mindset to one in which change is natural, what does change look and feel like to you? To your organization?...

Appreciating The Ability To Help

I recently helped to lead a focus group of customer service representatives whose role is to help people in need. A participant shared how at the end of each day when she and her husband commute home together, she shares a story of the most positive memorable call of the day. As I listened to her recount her approach, I thought what a great way to focus on the positive impact one makes and to be grateful for being to help another in some way. What a great way to end the workday....
Communicating Organizational Change at IABC Conference in DC

Communicating Organizational Change at IABC Conference in DC

On April 11, I will be sharing some thoughts on Communicating Organizational Change at IABC’s Strategic Corporate Communications Leadership Summit at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The conference runs April 10–11, 2014. It is commonly said that organizations are “over managed and under led.” This seems to be particularly true when it comes to organizational change. Every change effort is treated the same as part of an organization’s change methodology, at least for those that have one. But change management is not the same as change leadership. What we think of as change management is good for systems deployments or routine upgrades in processes, policies, or procedures. That is, in those cases, where there is relatively little emotion, complexity, or nuance, and processes for making the change are relatively standardized. Change leadership is required in those situations in which there is a lot of emotion, complexity, or nuance. These include mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, changes in business models, downsizings, etc. In those situations, you need more leadership and less routine approaches to communicating change: Leaders need to be visible, engage in dialogue, and provide context for the change. A takeaway for communicators is to “right-size” your communication plan to the change. Simply put, big changes require more communications and leadership and small ones less.  ...

Internal Communicators Wear Three Hats

Internal communicators play an essential if under-appreciated role in helping organizations communicate, inform, engage, and connect employees. Over the years, I have spoken about their special role at the intersection of organizational life and the multiple hats they have to wear to be effective. Internal communicators have to work on three levels, bringing three distinct perspectives to bear. They have to represent the voice of the company. They have to communicate official messages from the company and from leadership. They have to represent the voice of the employee. They have to be in touch with employees’ concerns and have an ear to the ground. When creating communications, they should design them from an employee-centric point of view. They have to represent the voice of the brand. They have to communicate in a way and format that is consistent with the brand. Whether the brand tone is approachable or formal, the communications should reflect...

Why spark?

In starting on this entrepreneurial journey, I went through an exercise to identify my values. One of my core values, upon reflection, was to see, cultivate, and appreciate the unique talents of each person who had worked for me in my leadership roles.  That unique talent is “the spark,” the essence that makes you unique. The io comes from my last name, which many find difficult to pronounce or spell. So, I have taken the io, which is simple enough, and added the spark to create io spark as a strategic communications and management consultancy to allow me to share my ideas and approaches with a wide variety of organizations. Having served in leadership roles in a variety of organizations in a range of industries, I have seen firsthand strategies and approaches that work and those that don’t. One of our goals at io spark is to help individuals, teams, and organizations find their unique spark. Our approach is appreciative and strengths-based grounded in respect for people.  ...