I was recently speaking to Grace, a communications consultant who was frustrated that she couldn’t motivate her leaders to create content. She always had to come up with the ideas and hand the content to them on a silver platter. She was frustrated that she had to constantly draft content for them and the leaders never knew what to say. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this and is certainly one of the biggest challenges for any communications professional.
As organisations are going through so much disruption and change, leaders are needing to communicate more. However, in my experience for those who aren’t, it is typically because they don’t have the tools or the confidence to do so effectively and efficiently. Many organisations have implemented internal platforms such as Yammer, Facebook Workplace and Microsoft Teams in the hope that their people will become more collaborative, increasing the need for leaders to be seen.
As leaders are needing to become more visible, with a greater online and offline presence, they need to have a greater voice and to be using that to motivate, engage and inspire to lead people through change. And in fact, their voice needs to be a catalyst for change, as opposed to just noise and information. This means creating not just content, but catalyst content – content that drives change.
The challenge is that most leaders will say they don’t have time to create content or aren’t sure what to say. This is true to a certain extent but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. What leaders say to me in workshops and coaching programs is that they are afraid. Afraid of saying the wrong things. Afraid of what people will think of them and afraid of the repercussions, judgement or rejection of their thoughts and ideas.
For leaders to create catalyst content, there are three key steps that will help them to know what to say:
Leaders have great ideas but sometimes they’re not heard. They may feel like they don’t have a voice or aren’t really present to what ideas they have. Leaders need to become present to those ideas. They need to build ideation habits, routines and tools to capture those ideas. Early in my career, one of my past bosses kept an ‘ideas file’ in his deep drawer and as a result, I’ve kept one as well. Not just in a deep drawer but a digital version in a computer-based file as well.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic says that “ideas are like monkeys. They come along and then jump away.” The secret is to be present to the idea, find a home to store the idea and block some time to unpack the idea in more detail. In my Content Creation Bootcamps, I allocate 10 minutes for an idea to be unpacked effectively. Yes, only 10 minutes (and yes, it’s possible!)
Creativity doesn’t come at scheduled times, but we need time to create and think. It takes time to create videos, write blog posts, produce a podcast and add little photo captions. But how much time do you need and what should you include?
Most leaders I work with have time blocked weekly, monthly, or quarterly to create their content. After spending 5 years as a productivity consultant, I learned that it’s a fine line between a personal productivity rhythm and the most efficient way to get the content created. One of the most powerful productivity activities to create content is to batch the process. For example, you can create 10 x 2-minute videos in the morning. Creating one each day can often be too challenging to get started unless you’re a natural creator.
Leaders need to be mindful of who the content is going out to and how they can best reach their audience. They need to ask how their piece of content can be leveraged for different channels so that it can be shared across different platforms and whether the content is only internal or external as well. Some might call this leverage but in a leader’s world, I think of it as generosity, being seen, being vulnerable and being courageous in showing up.
I recently went to see Brene Brown speak in Sydney and was called to the stage for one of her role-plays in front of 4000 people. She said,
“vulnerability is not winning or losing – it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness – it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
If your leaders can get these three things, you’ll create more innovation, more influence and more impact in your business. You will be able to lead your clients and customers through change more easily and faster.
Would love to know your thoughts.
Jane Anderson is a Strategic Communications expert, speaker and the author of 6 books plus the upcoming “Catalyst Content.” With over 20 years of experience helping people step into their personal power, she is obsessed about creating human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.