Strategic role of PR in managing CEOs in a disrupted era

By Godfrey Adejumoh

The world is changing. The business landscape is shifting, bedevilled by the emergence of new thinking, digital technologies and political instability. The order we once knew has given way to disruption. In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, the once-structured world has transformed into a disrupted arena, necessitating a meticulous and strategic approach to navigate this new order.

At the forefront of managing disruptions are the general managers — CEOs and MDs. The CEOs and MDs shoulder the responsibility of steering their organisations towards sustained profitability and enduring sustainability. In this evolving scenario, the role of PR and strategic communications professionals is being redefined. Now more than ever, PR professionals are pivotal in facilitating and enhancing the performance of these top-tier executives.

From my sojourn in managing global and local CEOs for strategic impact, here are a few thoughts to help PR and strategic communications practitioners become more effective in their roles, grouped under the tag ‘ABUNDANCE OF.’

ABUNDANCE OF INTEGRITY: Amidst the upheaval caused by disruptions, the fundamental pillar of integrity retains its unwavering significance for businesses. While some enterprises pursue immediate gains by sidestepping compliance and regulations, the enduring success of any venture rests upon upholding ethical standards and abiding by the rule of law.

As advisors, it becomes imperative to articulate the intrinsic value of ethical business practices, even when they aren’t immediately popular. Fostering a culture of integrity, supporting CEOs in cultivating a business model grounded in ethical principles, fortifies resilience against adversities and enables sustained success. Abundance of integrity is key to managing a CEO for success.

ABUNDANCE OF PERSPECTIVES: Every CEO possesses a distinct leadership style and approach. Respecting their individuality while offering strategic guidance constitutes a crucial aspect of our role.

It’s essential to recognise that our position isn’t about enforcing decisions; rather, it’s centred on providing insightful perspectives and documenting our guidance for future reflection. Regardless of the outcomes, standing by the CEOs, irrespective of their decisions, nurtures trust and positions us as indispensable strategic partners rather than mere assessors.

It is your role to be a forward-thinking personality. The goal is simple — have an abundance of perspectives to manage your CEO.

ABUNDANCE OF INSIGHTS AND PROFESSIONALISM: In today’s landscape, driven by data and empirical evidence, leveraging insights becomes an essential facet of guiding CEOs. CEOs are inclined toward data-driven decision-making, emphasising the necessity for a comprehensive understanding of crucial economic indicators and employing both empirical and intuitive insights.

Communications professionals will benefit from understanding key financial data like balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements as they help assess a company’s health, profitability, and cash management. Basic financial ratios, budgeting principles and spreadsheets also provide insights into efficiency and goal-setting. A grasp of these fundamentals empowers better decision-making and collaboration within an organisation.

Professionalism is the bedrock of our interactions; it entails maintaining boundaries while exuding approachability, ensuring sustained credibility in our advisory capacity.

ABUNDANCE OF UNDERSTANDING: While we may not be subject matter experts in all domains, possessing a broad understanding across various business facets is essential. Being a dependable advisor necessitates proficiency in diverse areas such as manufacturing, marketing, finance, supply chain, sustainability, and more. Collaborating with subject matter experts when required enhances our ability to facilitate informed decisions and adds depth to our guidance.

I will be frank with you; you need to be seen as someone who understands the business operating environment. You have to do what it takes to achieve this. Be consistent in your development journey. Build capacity relentlessly. You have to be able to sustain a conversation about the business across the business.

ABUNDANCE OF GUIDANCE: Success in various spheres often stems from guidance rather than sheer brilliance. The role of strategic advisors requires a deliberate and calculated approach rather than a brash demeanour. Embodying a guided mindset positions us as strategic advisors, not judges, in the intricate fabric of organisational decision-making. The best leaders are guided.

Take Barack Obama, Alex Furguson, Kofi Anna, Nelson Mandela, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Akinwumi Adesina, among others. They are guided people in their actions. They are leaders. They are deliberate, intentional, and calculative. You must have similar attributes to work successfully with them.

This is the cruise of the matter, navigating the multifaceted realm of PR and strategic communications demands readiness to confront challenges and embrace the continuous evolution of the field. It’s a career path that transforms individuals into multidimensional professionals.

Dear professional, you require an abundance of essential qualities —integrity, perspective, insights, professionalism, and guidance — to thrive and excel.

Godfrey Adejumoh: A Global PR Strategist with expertise in ESG, External Affairs, Sustainability and Strategic Communications, writes from Lagos. He can be reached on:

Email: [email protected]

IG: Godfrey Adejumoh

LinkedIn: Godfrey Adejumoh


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