Leadership Buy-in and Support

With very few exceptions, interview subjects reported that organizational leaders are highly supportive of communications. Leadership support of communications appears to be a baseline requirement for the application of lessons learned in training.

Most interview subjects reported very high support for communications among staff leaders, and many also report strong board support for communications. Fewer than four of 40 individuals interviewed reported leadership-related obstacles to communications.

In many cases, leaders attended training by themselves or joined others from their program or communications team in training. Unless the leader her- or himself attended training, training participation generally was not linked to changes in leadership behavior relative to communications; however, some nonprofit practitioners who attended training without their leaders indicated that they were encouraged to do so by leadership and further supported in their communications efforts by leaders upon their return from training.

VERBATIM RESPONSES

Ways leaders support communications

[Our leaders] support communications. They allocate funds, and also time and energy. I can’t think of any obstacles.

Our executive director places a very high value on communications and has a communications background.

Communications is essential. It is greatly valued [by organizational leaders].

The board gets it. The staff gets it. We’re all rowing in the same direction.

My boss, the executive director, has a deep and abiding desire to use communications as much as possible. He is a real believer that we need to use communications to move our issues.

We have an active board and like that a lot… They comment on policy briefs and take messages forward themselves, even when we don’t ask them to.

Getting leadership to focus on communication has been a struggle in my experience. It’s starting to become a recognized area on its own.

Our executive director is learning. Communications was never part of her understanding or strength or skill.

We have a lot of resources we could devote to [communications], but we choose not to.

Training influence

Our vice president of policy and programs went to training [not the same year as interview subject attended] and that was great. He came back a convert. He has placed a huge emphasis on communications after that and is a constant advocate for us, and for resources for communications. Our president does not have as much buy-in.

Training reinforced that communications is essential, whereas I’d been thinking of it almost as a luxury. (executive leader)

We see this training as an incredible resource. Over time, our executive director will be much better at understanding the importance of communications strategy.

The communications team, at our retreat, mapped a Smart Chart and used it to demonstrate to management how we would do communications. It’s not about jumping straight to tactics. It was useful in shifting [our leadership’s] thinking.

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