For years, comms directors and senior comms people have relished the prospect of getting a seat at the top table. It’s up there alongside having a direct report to the chief executive.
These days, fewer comms directors report to the chief executive and there are fewer seats at the leadership table. But you can still be an insider, a key influencer.
Answer these questions to see whether you’re on the inside track or out in the cold.
If you answer yes to a question, add 2 points to your score. If no, then you score 0 for that question. Record and then add up your score.
- Are you routinely copied in on Senior Leadership Team papers?
- Are you on your CX’s speed-dial?
- Does the leader of the council talk to you about major plans prior to launch?
- Do you have walk-in rights with your chief executive (can go to see them without an appointment)?
- Do you have walk-in rights with your council leader (can go to see them without an appointment)?
- Have you ghosted features for your chief executive that have been published in national titles?
- Have you ghosted features for your council leader that have been published in national titles?
- Have you written think pieces or policy ideas for your chief executive that informed the direction of travel of your organisation?
- Have you written think pieces or policy ideas for your council leader that informed the direction of travel of your organisation?
- Do corporate directors seek your views on strategic matters?
- Do corporate directors seek your views on tactical matters?
- Does the senior leadership team insist on hearing your view reputation-related issues prior to taking decisions?
- Have you persuaded your chief executive not to take an action contrary to their initial wishes?
- Have you persuaded your council leader not to take an action contrary to their initial wishes?
- Do you have good relationships with potential future council leaders?
How did you score?
20 – 30: You are an insider but if your score is close to or on 30 you may be sailing too close to the wind. If you have answered yes to questions 3, 5, 7, 9, 14 and 15, you may want to check whether you are not over-stepping the mark – you’ll certainly be influential but you may also be political too. If you are writing stuff for politicians, have you been given explicit instructions/permission to do so by the chief executive? And is that in writing? You might want to check.
10 – 18: You may be cautious but you are probably exerting influence in what would be described as “appropriate” ways. You’re probably a highly capable officer who knows what’s black, white and what’s dangerously grey.
0 – 8: You’re not likely to steer onto the inside track unless you’re scoring on 3, 5, 7, 9, 14 or 15 – in which case, you may want to check your focus.
For more on this kind of thing sign up for The Aspiring Comms Leader Survival Kit (event has now past).