We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us


When we reported on our 2012 research findings in Communication World magazine (July 2013), we knew communication professionals strongly agreed with the leadership role for communications that CEOs described in the Arthur W. Page Society’s Authentic Enterprise (2007). We also knew that those who responded to our survey painted a very consistent view of how the function and the profession would need to change to take on this new leadership role in our organizations. Specifically, they had told us that we needed to develop four leadership characteristics and move:

FROM: Deep understanding of communication and how it works
TO: Deep understanding of the business and where and how communications can best support its vision

FROM: Siloed communication specialties (internal, external, media, marketing, etc.)
TO: A single integrated, strategic communication view

FROM: Designing and implementing transactional events
TO: Supporting clients in building and sustaining key relationships

FROM: Controlling
TO: Collaborative and facilitative

But, despite this clear vision for the future and the strong aspiration for the profession and the function, as individual professionals they just didn’t seem to want to take on this leadership role. This left us with one big question–why not? Is it because we don’t know or don’t believe that the opportunity to lead is there? Is it that we don’t have the skills? Or is it really that we just don’t have the will? Fair enough, not all of us aspire to leadership. But how can we achieve our aspirations for the profession and our function if we are not ready to lead as individual professionals? So, we conducted a second survey, which we called “Digging Deeper,” to try and get a better understanding of what is stopping us.

The purpose of our survey was to get a deeper understanding of the four leadership characteristics that were described so vividly in our earlier research. Specifically, we wanted to know how close or how far away the profession, the function and individual professionals were to the leadership characteristics described so vividly in our first study. And, if we weren’t “there,” what it would take to get us there.