How many books are there about not becoming a leader?

I’ve just started reading Kevin Murray’s latest book about inspiring leadership.  I bought it after hearing him at a joint CIPD/IABC conference on the subject.

Kevin has some really interesting things to say to would-be leaders.

But it strikes me that there are few books devoted to the people who don’t want to be the top leader.  Is there a gap in the market for a book for people like us (i.e. communicators) who help leaders fulfil their mission?

Where is the book called ‘Whispering behind the throne – making the boss look good’?

Naturally, most of the books on the subject of leadership contain the sort of advice that senior counsel should be giving.  A reading of much of the canon on the subject of leadership will give a communications director more than enough to talk about.

It’s a subject that got Klavs and I debating as we finalised our book on Internal Communications(available in August in all good shops).  We included a chapter on supporting senior leaders simply because we felt this is where an internal communicator can add massive value and, at the same time, earn credibility for their function overall.

In short, we feel that supporting individual senior leaders is a duty and responsibility for people in our profession. But how do you actually help your director or CEO to lead through their communication?

Well, part of our inspiration is David Maister’s must read book ‘The Trusted Advisor’.

Our experience is that communicators who take their relationship with the big boss seriously make progress faster than their colleagues who fail to breakthrough past the CEO’s defensive outer office.

Yet few of people really know the secret of getting to support whoever is the God of our world, even though there are few simple things we can do to make ourselves valuable.

  • Know more about the internal audience than anyone else
  • Have no agenda when you tell the boss what really is going on – she or he is surrounded by people who want to put their own spin on things
  • Plan their story with them and identify the opportunities for them to tell it
  • Ensure that when they travel, they travel with your advice and support
  • Preserve their ‘Executiveness’ – the boss is the boss and not the communication vehicle of the first resort for every trivial programme or initiative

There are probably millions of other great tips out there, we’d love to hear them; perhaps we can crowdsource the first edition of ‘Whispering behind the throne….’

A communicator at Working Communications - interested in change and developing capabilities in our profession. Likes to ride a bike as well... Co author of the CIPR's Internal Communication: A manual for practitioners

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