One big lesson for a rookie CEO.

Author:Naples, Ronald J.

Nothing has been more of a revelation to me in the CEO job than the importance of and the amount of energy which must be devoted to communicating well. I am struck by the triteness of my observation, by how often one reads or hears some version of the importance of communication, by the need I feel to make that observation at all. But the reality is that despite the intellectual understanding we may all have of the importance of communicating with others, being faced with the need to achieve a wide range of communication goals--from informing to advocating to inspiring --with a range of audiences places great demands on a CEO's time and can be the difference between success and failure. And it is one of the areas in which we are often least prepared. Good communication is ignored only at one's peril.

I feel it's a mistake to think that the only communications that count by the CEO to employees are those that influence a lot of people at one effort. When I go to the plants, I do call people together for group sessions; and once a quarter I get all middle management together at headquarters and talk about results and other operational matters. But that's not enough. I often handwrite letters to people at all levels of the organization: the salesman named best of the month; a manager in one of our plants who comes up with something useful in a production process; someone mentioned in the employee newsletter doing something of particular note or personal importance. In terms of...

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