A whole contingent of “BBC’ers” – including Anna, Dina, Kate, Lori, Susan, and me – recently spent several days in New York City attending the IABC World Conference. Each of us had different experiences and insights as we participated in the more than 100 available sessions on topics ranging from Leadership and Global Trends to Media, Public Relations, and Brand.
As a team, we’ve developed some key takeaways from the conference that we wanted to share with our BBC friends:
- Authentic leadership is key to a company’s success. As a leader, it’s not about telling people what to do, but instead bringing teams together around a shared context and shared values, empowering people to lead at all levels of the organization and being, above all, trustworthy. Leaders who communicate effectively – who are especially good at making the complex seem simple – have 47% higher total returns to shareholders.
- Storytelling isn’t a nice to have; it’s a must have. Richard Edelman said in his conference keynote address that “we live in an age of continuous partial attention.” Breaking through and connecting today requires authentic stories and inspiring experiences that both show, and tell. Graphs, words and data are out. Invoking emotion through compelling visuals and experiences is in; 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. We’ve seen this first-hand through the powerful visioning sessions we’ve held with our clients.
- Engaging stakeholders is more than a meeting invite. True engagement takes time and passion, ultimately answering “What needs to change?” and “What needs to be here that isn’t?” – not just from the C-Suite but from cubicles and customers across countries. It’s never been more important than it is today that we hypershift our thinking – and our doing – so our values and brand are aligned internally and externally. Though social strategies are important, they aren’t a panacea; successful social engagement starts first with content, and second with channels. In today’s world, everyone’s a stakeholder and everyone owns a piece of your brand.
But our biggest takeaway came in a collective “a ha” moment over dinner one night: As a boutique consultancy, we are truly blessed with first-rate talent and expertise that is already helping our clients navigate a variety of transformative changes, like these ones, impacting their organizations. I’m so proud!
Cheryl is founder and CEO of Blue Beyond Consulting. She is a firm believer in deep trust, high expectations workplaces, and a sought-after advisor and speaker on change, leadership, and culture.