As communications professionals, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out who we actually work for. We have so many stakeholders to keep happy, from senior leaders to staff, to the media, to various internal clients. So, recently when my career coach asked me, “Who do you work for?” I was a little perplexed. But I had the right answer…or so I thought.
“I work for the business,” I said.
He looked at me like a parent looks at a child who is still learning the basics of life.
“No, you don’t,” he replied.
I was surprised by this. What’s he trying to say? Of course, I worked for the business. Communications should be a strategic asset for the company. What we do should advance the business goals. We should be able to clearly articulate the strategy to all stakeholders and use our skills to advance the goals of the business. How can we not be working for the business?
“You work for the person who hired you,” he continued. “That could be a C-Suite executive. It could be your immediate boss. It could be an agency. The person who hired you is the person you have to keep happy. If it’s the CEO, he or she has their own needs, their own expectations, their own flaws. Focus on what they are trying to achieve and the rest will fall into place.”
So, I decided to try that approach. What I found was that most senior-level executives’ needs are aligned with the business needs. They need to have credibility in order to lead. They need to be able to articulate the strategy and goals to all stakeholders. They need to make sure the business is a success. By serving them, you serve the business.
It’s that simple.