Mark has been communicating since birth and helping business leaders communicate since 1978. Over the years, he found himself in the middle of many moments that define how leaders use communications to connect. Mark helped leaders at Exxon use communications to assure people about the company after the Valdez incident before partnering with leaders at a new airline named Southwest to inspire employees to deliver a special brand.
He helped leaders at Cathay Pacific Airlines in Hong Kong keep employees engaged as the company and its home country became a part of China. Mark also helped leaders at Exxon and Mobil keep key staff engaged during the largest merger in history. Since 2000, he has helped dozens of executives become better leaders by becoming better communicators.
In the next war for talent, the experience an organization offers to workers (traditional and contingent) will be as critical as traditional opportunities and rewards. Fueled by a sense of expectation and connection, and goodness, workers will continue to be more aware of what companies offer as well as more in touch with what organizations stand for. No more is the culture war about gimmicks. No longer will a company stand out because it offers an easy way to wash your dog. Looking ahead, a company must be what people want to be a part of.
Many companies do not realize everything it takes to make a culture thrive. Much like an orchid, a culture can thrill when in bloom but easily be threatened by those who do not respect or nurture its essence. And well-meaning contributors, from over-eager leaders to micro-managing HR staffs to over-promoting Communicators, can misdirect their good intentions to destroy what is most meaningful to people who experience the culture every day. Ask yourself, “what can kill our culture and what steps are we taking to keep it healthy?”
Many a leader may say, “let’s build a culture that puts people first”. Easier said than done. The journey must begin with a leader looking inside to confirm an authentic commitment to people. New workers arrive with x-ray vision to see through false promises. They want to be needed. Recognized. Valued. Supported in their personal lives as well as for their professional contributions by leaders who dare to care about them as people. To create a human workplace, leaders must first discover their own humanity as they develop cultural sensibility.
In any organization, leaders may think the culture is healthy. After all, people come to work every day. But what do leaders actually know about a culture’s health? From the responses to traditional engagement surveys? A culture’s true health is more tied to how people work than what messages an organization shares. And no matter how healthy you think your culture may be, until you put it through a real diagnosis you will have no idea what toxins may lurk underneath. Take the first step to ensure your culture’s health.
Any leader plays a starring role in the organization’s narrative, much like a leading character in a movie. For more than 35 years, Mark Schumann has taught leaders how to be better communicators which, in turn, makes them better leaders. And, for the past 20 years, he has reached 1 million readers a week with his movie reviews. Now he puts these disciplines together to create a unique approach to authentically reveal a leader’s character so the audience wants to follow.
- MARK SCHUMANN
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