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Succeeding in Today’s Business Environment Demands Effective Communications Skills

A recent Business Monday article titled, “Colleges offer more courses aimed at the job market”, underscores that in this extremely competitive marketplace, being “job ready” when coming out of college is of utmost importance. That’s why I believe communications courses should be incorporated into every college curriculum.

Without question, communication intersects with every other discipline.  In the real (business) world, how we communicate creates or changes perceptions, to a point that it can alter the course of events and stimulate new possibilities. Communication is a powerful lever for moving public opinion, so it is vital to move them in the right direction.

Landing and keeping a job, salary considerations, raises—or lack thereof--and promotions are all tied to the ability to communicate.   Show me a successful C-suite member whose advancement up the ladder is not derived in part by his/her communications skills or who did not pay a high price for poor communication skills?

Individuals with good communication skills are more effective in leading others. In fact, effective communication is the defining characteristic of our best leaders.  Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, Michelle Peluso, president/CEO of Travelocity.com and John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems each demonstrate an exceptional ability to connect with audiences, engaging and influencing stakeholders with their messages and their delivery.  Conversely, BP’s former CEO, Tony Hayward, lost his job as well as global credibility for his insensitive remarks during the Gulf oil spill. Such ineffective communications ---not knowing how to relate to audiences or how to develop or deliver appropriate messages---can lead to personal and corporate disasters.

Today, business organizations operate in a fast-paced online world.  Social media, citizen journalists and the speed of the internet have created porous borders between stakeholder communities. Boundaries between external and internal audiences no longer exist, creating what I call orbital communications.

Business professionals must take this new communication paradigm into account and ensure finely honed, targeted and clearly articulated messages for the full orbit of stakeholders: internal, external and interpersonal.

Effective communication is no longer a luxury for advancing a career. It is a necessity. It has never been more important to understand how to engage conversations.  The more adept and articulate an individual is in communicating, the more of an edge he/she has over others in any business or organizational endeavor.

My advice to prospective graduates, young professionals and business executives is to master communication essentials, both written and oral.  In a world that demands transparency, speed, social conscience and participation –what we see as society’s new “checkpoints”— developing and delivering the right message at the right time for the right audiences via the right channels, becomes exceedingly important.

However, our educational and business institutions also need to do their part. I strongly encourage universities to include communications courses in their curriculums.  Governor Scott has said he “wants to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, math degrees, so when they get out of school, they can get a job. Investing to teach our young people good communication skills will also equip them for long term success on their chosen career path.

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