Egon Zehnder


How corporate affairs can create space for diverse views and manage internal friction

CEOs and senior leaders are navigating increased complexity, disorder, and dissenting views in the world around them. They must think more actively about how their organizations are engaging with certain social and political topics, especially as organizations are now “The New Town Hall.” Leaders must find ways to make space for a spectrum of diverse voices and perspectives to be heard within their organizations without undermining the values and principles that are essential to the organizational values and culture.

In a series of discussions with senior global communications leaders over the past six months, we explored the role they are playing in helping CEOs and leaders evolve their approaches and grow more comfortable with the friction between different internal audiences. Adding to the complexity is that they are engaging with remote and disparate teams through new and different channels and exposing a level of personal vulnerability not seen before in the corporate world.

The Company as “The New Town Hall”

作为Covid-19的事实及其潜在的挥之不去的效果以及它对世界造成的经济困难变得更加清晰,各国政府依赖于世界各地的公司来安抚和帮助他们的人民。虽然中政府往往缺乏事实,但个人已经转向雇主进行指导。放大器这是对遥控工作的地震转变,这导致了前所未有的摄取和对在线,实时对话的需求 - 以取代“水冷却器”和“走廊聊天”的东西。首席执行官一直在满足这一需求,并填补了这些差距与个性 - 宣传自己脆弱性和缺乏确定性的信息。通信领导人已经注意到,CEO在不了解和谈论他们在自己的私人空间的大型在线论坛中缺乏知识,必须变得更加舒适。


As well as adjusting to a new level of ambiguity, business leaders have found themselves increasingly hosting sometimes fraught internal debates and discussions. At a macro-level, the COVID-19 impact is not being felt uniformly by all communities – both externally and within organizations – creating new tensions between office workers and those in front-line positions or those in locked-down communities experiencing hardship and those living more freely. Another lightning rod was the discussion around Black Lives Matter, which in the corporate world, has moved into a live conversation about inclusive recruitment, talent development, policies around racism, and treatment of people in the workplace. Across the world, corporations have seen a rise in the desire for employees to make their views known in the workplace, with a level of openness previously unseen. With internal social communications tools now commonplace (e.g., Workplace and Teams), and debate shifting fluidly across functions and geographies, the CEO as a single voice of authority is a thing of the past. Employees are now expecting their leaders to create space for debate and challenge, so providing clear boundaries around what is acceptable versus counterproductive is fundamental.

Supporting Local Leadership

This two-way dialogue has seen the pressure mount on leaders outside of the CEO’s office – often in local rather than global leadership positions. While the top job has the support of advisors and dedicated functions to craft and hone messages, those in other leadership positions can feel out on a limb. They, too, are expected to be comfortable with ambiguity and debate, perhaps on topics they have no experience in (or opinions on) and without the professional backing of HR and Communications. Some communications leaders we spoke to have started rolling out training sessions to local leaders, as these are the people who have more of an immediate influence on employee engagement and satisfaction.


员工参与已成为2020年所有领导人的联络点 - 内部通信处于核心。高级通信领导者必须帮助组织及其领导团队适应新世界的开放,透明和双向互动,鼓励和指导首席执行官从不同的角度看待他们的世界。从思维的角度来看,高级沟通领导人正在获得首席执行官和商业领袖,以便以与他们的外部通信方法相同的方式思考这种改变的内部通信动态,以便在过去十年中接受社交媒体。内部通信的转变非常相似;它少于广播单个,领导力和更多关于使用领导语音来设置上下文,使对话民主化的人,并为他人创造空间。在实际水平,它涉及与法律和人力资源团队密切合作,并为领导者提供指导,以确保在让对话流程和设定适当的边界方面采取强大的方法。(避免避免不适的切割对话可以深入讨论。)首席通信人员的关键作用也是确保他们与当地团队和社区有关,以便从“中心”或全球领导层的沟通是敏感的,相关的共振。通信领导人已经注意到急性挑战是今年获得平衡 - 无论是在Covid-19问题上达到正确的语气,解决BLM,地缘政治张力或更广泛的多样性和包容等问题,具有全球意义,但水平更高焦点在一些地区。 Organizations are required to take a stand globally; however, if the conversation no longer feels relevant to teams in different parts of the world, there is a risk that people will switch off completely.


Perhaps this new perspective has turned employee engagement on its head; the conversation is less about how to keep employees engaged positively with their employers, and more about how engaged employers are in the personal and professional lives of their people.

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