A unique training opportunity!


We are delighted to offer IABC members and other communications professionals an opportunity to attend a special training session led by former IABC Global Chair, Adrian Cropley.

Focused on Leadership Skills for Communication Professionals Adrian re-focuses our attention on Valentine’s Day to those vital skills that help us to navigate change and our sometimes irascible leaders.

Normally based in Melbourne Australia and following his appearance at EMENAComm, Adrian will be in the UK for just two days. We’re really excited by the content and as previous attendees can attest, this is “A brilliant course. Really got me thinking about how me and my team can become more strategic. Good mix of presentations, individual work and group work.”


Course Synopsis:

Leadership Skills for Communication Professionals (10 CPD Credits)

Outline for our one-day workshop

Explore the demands of communication leadership and the skills and attributes needed to lead an effective team and achieve key organisational outcomes.

This class will be taught by Adrian Cropley OAM, FRSA, SCMP and draws on his extensive years of business, HR, communication and change experience, coupled with leading practices of his global clients. He will be supported by our own Jane Mitchell, FRSA, former IABC UK President and International Executive Board member with a wealth of experience of working with leadership teams during change and transformation programmes. During the programme, Adrian and Jane will help attendees through some of your specific challenges. Expect to walk away with helpful solutions, tools and techniques and have fun in the process.

What you’ll learn 

· Management vs. leadership – what’s the difference
· Identifying and developing your existing leadership qualities
· Collaborative working and relationship building
· Increasing your influence to become a strategic leader


Is this course right for you?

The course will be of interest to those currently occupying middle management positions with at least five years’ experience, who are preparing to advance to a more senior leadership level.


Course outline

The manager vs. the leader
· Learn the characteristics and behaviours of effective leaders
· Review the manager versus leader inventory
Explore the team and the Parker Team Survey
· Discover the attributes of a high performing team
· Define teams and explore the Parker Team Player Survey
Build great relationships and get the best out of people
· Gain insights into emotional intelligence and the emotional competence framework
· Explore how you influence others
Be an influencer and strategic advisor
· Understand why people come to you for advice and how to build your value
· Be a strategic advisor and trusted business partner in your organisation
· Keep people coming back for value-added work where you can make the biggest impact on driving the business


About the trainers

An accredited business communicator, and past global chair of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Adrian Cropley is widely recognised as an expert in strategic communication. With a career spanning over 25 years, Adrian has worked with clients all over the world, including Fortune 500 companies, on major change communication initiatives, internal communication reviews and strategies, professional development programs and executive leadership and coaching. He has been a keynote speaker and workshop leader on strategic and change communication at international conferences all over the world, and has received numerous awards including international Gold Quill awards for communication excellence.

With a career beginning in broadcasting and award-winning film production, Jane has worked in the world of communications for over 30 years. She supports primarily global organisations at all levels in embedding values and ethics by advising on and developing communication strategies for company ethics programmes, designing and facilitating of values-based leadership programmes, and giving the most senior leaders news that may not always be good on the health of their ethical culture.

The course will be held at the DeVere Canary Wharf, 1 Westferry Circus, London E14 4HD.
Thanks to Barclays for kindly hosting


Reserve your Place 

Spaces are limited so book now. We have negotiated a special discount for IABC members and friends.

The rate will be £450 for IABC members. £500 for non-members. (All prices include vat) Your fee includes lunch and refreshments.

To register and for more detailed information about the course including learning outcomes, agenda and information about who should attend can be found here:

How can communicators survive in the new corporate world? – IABC UK introduces Bushcraft for Communicators

Inspired by their experiences as consultants and specialists in organisational change, employee engagement and leadership, Mike Pounsford and Stephen Welch have joined forces to create Bushcraft for Communicators.


As traditional approaches in marketing and strategic communications don’t seem to work in the new corporate world, Welch and Pounsford have devised 12 tools to help communicators navigate this new landscape. The pair use the bushcraft analogy to show how to be more agile and move faster to face the challenges encountered in the ‘bush’.


During an interactive event in London conducted by the two IABC UK past presidents, attendees had the opportunity to get a taste of how bushcraft tools can help communication professionals facing periods of uncertainty at their organisations.


The starting point


In a time when things can appear to be moving too quickly and changes arise unexpectedly, communicators and leaders need to ask where they are heading.


According to Welch and Pounsford, organisations need to be prepared if they want to survive in this new landscape, which is influenced by so many different factors. And how can they do that? By acknowledging where they are and where they want to go. However, the real challenge here is getting people to a common destination, while keeping in mind everyone’s journey will be different. As Pounsford says, ‘Not everyone departs from the same starting point’.


In order to reach sustained change, leaders shouldn’t focus on the process or the journey, but on the destination. They need to understand that it’s not only the leadership’s perspective that matters. it’s also importenat to pay attention to other employees’ points of view when they ask the big question: where do we want to go?

Good leaders, those who bet on sustained change, will know they have succeeded when they reach common consensus on the destination.


As Welch explained during the event, ‘HQs tend to remain in their little bubble of the world, and for them it will seem very simple. But, actually, their view of the world may not be shared by the rest of the organisation, who have different perspectives on how changes should be implemented or the journey to follow to achieve those new results’. Welch also maintains that communicators have a key role to play in devising a new strategy to bring about change in an organisation, encouraging them to ‘remind leaders they’re not the centre of the universe’.


The trust formula


Whether it is a business transaction or a friendship, trust plays an essential role in developing a relationship. Within strategic communications, a trusting relationship contains three key elements:


  • R: the results obtained or business outcome (what benefit will I obtain from this?)
  • US: mutual understanding and support (what is the relationship based on?)
  • T: low levels of risk (how will you reduce possible threats?).


When it comes to building long-term relationships with different stakeholders, the Trust Tool created by Welch and Pounsford helps communicators. The tool assesses how much effort communicators put into each element and outlines what can be done to raise their profile as a trusted specialist or consultant. For example:


  • To improve R: focus on solutions and results, show you understand the other person’s perspective and their world, listen and give feedback, show confidence in your skills.
  • To enhance US: share a social element, show empathy and put yourself in the other person’s shoes, find common ground and shared values, be generous with information and connections, be willing to learn more about them, do not forget about the power of face-to-face meetings.
  • To reduce T: provide examples of what you can do, do great work and solve problems, be visible and show commitment, demonstrate you are reliable, be responsible and available, give endorsements (mouth to mouth recommendations), show honesty.


Find out more about Bushcraft for Communicators and how you can apply these tools to your organisation.


By Alexandra R. Cifre


Listening – a strategic communication capability


“Good communication is not just data transfer. You need to show people something that addresses their anxieties, that accepts their anger, that is credible in a very gut-level sense, and that evokes faith in the vision.” John P. Kotter


I have just been listening to Thomas Bjørn the captain of the victorious European Ryder Cup team.  He said a similar thing to John Kotter when talking about the secret of his team’s success.  He emphasised that success lay in really understanding the motivations and desires of members of the team.  I’m paraphrasing, but he said of his team that: “They are all professionals at the top of their game so winning is not about telling them what to do but listening to understand what matters to them.”

It strikes me that these examples from John Kotter (a change leadership guru) and Thomas Bjørn (a contemporary leader in a highly competitive field) are relevant in this age of rapid digital transformation.

We need leadership communication that inspires, provides clarity of mission and purpose, and that enables people to operate with autonomy.  This is a style of leadership communication that is less about transmission and broadcasting and more about listening, and which places a premium on understanding the perspectives of others and building empathy.


The listening leader

Right at the heart of this discussion about change, Kotter’s quote above conveys the essential need to communicate at a personal, emotive level in order to stand a chance of getting people to buy-into new directions and ways of working.  It also captures the insight that inspiring people begins not with broadcasting but with listening.  To “address anxieties” and to “accept anger” requires an ability to be sensitive to, empathise with and tune into the concerns and emotions of the group leaders aim to influence.


This implies that the inspirational leader is not the stereotype of the extreme personality or the ego-centric CEO leading the charge.  Rather, the inspirational leader begins not with talking but with listening to what people think and feel.


Reflecting on personal experience

Bringing this down to the personal level, consider when you last felt completely engaged and committed to the goals of an organisation that you worked for, or with.  Take a minute to reflect on what drove that engagement.

Based on numerous conversations over the years I have found that a number of themes recur which emphasise how important “local” conversations and empathetic listening are compared to “inspirational” communications from a remote leader.


The role of listening and empathy in communicating strategy

In reflecting therefore on the need to develop more conversational approaches to change, and the 10 characteristics of effective strategic conversations, it strikes me that listening and empathy run through all the things that leaders need to do to communicate their strategy.   But how do you make this happen?


  1. Provide clarity of purpose and vision
    This is focused on making meaning for people. Leaders need to give people clarity about what the organisation stands for, who it aims to serve and what things should look like in the future when it is successful. The purpose piece requires a deep commitment to understand what connects customers, stakeholders and employees to an organisation, listening to the difference that it makes to others and what value that difference delivers to them.
  2. Develop shared goals at top
    Ironically often the piece that is missing and that is obvious if it is absent to others. The CEO or leader needs to get the top team to listen to each other and sets the example by ensuing he or she can advocate others points of view as well as his or her own on the way to defining shared goals
  3. Encourage a focus on strengths and celebrate what you do well
    Great leaders are sensitive to the things that matter to their employees and will recognise the talismanic quality of old brands or legacy organisations. Rather than dismiss these as outdated they will honour heritage and recognise the skills that went into building these. This is a true test of empathy as one of the common problems is that new CEOs, merged organisations or leadership teams building new brands often discount history and miss the emotional impact old symbols, brands and companies have for people.
  4. Build conversational skills and curiosity
    Genuine conversations involve being present and paying attention to the views of others. If we are waiting to talk we are not really listening and others will spot that lack of authenticity quickly. Effective strategic communication today needs to be cantered around high-quality conversations that allow people to explore the implications of strategy for them. Leaders at all levels need to pay close attention and be curious about the needs of others to earn their right to explain their vision and strategy
  5. Focus on the future
    Strategic conversations focus on how teams can influence events and take more control of their environment. Given the pace of change teams need to be responsive and fast which can only be achieved with leaders who are willing to listen to their teams and empower colleagues to take decisions
  6. Adopt an external perspective
    Strategy and its implementation do not occur in a vacuum. Listening to the needs of customers, suppliers and other stakeholders and paying attention to the actions of competitors and new market entrants ensures relevance and responsiveness
  7. Tolerate ambiguity and build resilience
    We live in uncertain times, yet we all crave more certainty and knowledge of what may happen in future. Great leaders can invite their people to discuss the implications of future uncertain events and lead conversations on what we can control and what we cannot control. Their ability to listen, empathise and focus on what we can influence helps build capacity for change.
  8. Be clear on outcomes and share responsibility
    Effective communication and implementation of strategy involves distributing intelligence around a business so that at each point there is a degree of clarity about our role in supporting the bigger picture. By understanding the essentials, we know what to do when we make local decisions, allocate resources or serve customers. This degree of flexibility and responsiveness is achieved not by telling people what to do but by listening, planning and working together to share responsibility
  9. Encourage discovery and emergent thinking
    The leader in the modern day is not an expert orator but an expert facilitator. He or she is good at asking questions and exploring options to help people figure new ways of delivering – letting go but in the context of a clear framework
  10. Build relationships
    People want to connect with colleagues. Leaders and managers need to help people feel part of their “in-group” and help their teams build great relationships by listening and empathising with each other.


In summary, empathetic listening is critical to effective strategic communication.  It is the skill that must come first, and it is a skill that needs to permeate throughout the organisation to support engagement at all levels.

It may sound counter-intuitive to start with listening but the evidence from leadership researchers, neuroscientists, behavioural economists – and our own experience – tells us it holds the key to engagement.


By Mike Pounsford

Founder, Couravel

[email protected]

Mike works with leadership and with specialists in communication to clarify and communicate purpose, vision and strategy.   He founded his own business, Couravel, in 2001 and works to help define and share common meaning.  Clients have included global and smaller UK based businesses and organisations in the private, public and third sectors.

Mike is currently the Past President of IABC UK.

The value of a multichannel strategy to communicate effectively with employees



A diverse workforce can be a challenge to reach. Depending on just one channel to communicate to employees will not work. Adopting a multichannel approach will better enable you to engage with all of your employees. To accomplish this, internal communicators need to join the dots between strategy, behaviours and technology, to improve the flow and quality of communication and collaboration.


First review your general communication strategy:


  • Do you have goals and objectives for your communications? Everything should be aligned with

your company’s business objectives. This includes general goals per campaign, and goals

relating to your internal communications.


  • Select the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure your success in achieving your goals. Good KPIs to review include content popularity, survey responses, take up of safety initiatives, response to change management, video views, event registrations, or an increase in intranet or social network traffic – to name a few. Match the metrics you use to measure your success to the KPIs you have selected.


Conduct a channel audit


While you are reviewing channels available to you, also take the time to identify where you need to update your channel technology (such as email and intranet) to technology that saves you time, and delivers the real-time metrics and analytics you need. Having this type of insight will help you assess the channel popularity and audience preferences.


Channel strengths – Take a look at the existing communication channels available to you. Understanding their strengths will help you improve how you use each channel to help you reach a diverse workforce.


The role of insight and measurement in your success


Measurement lets you understand the impact of what you’re doing. Review your access to measurement in each of your channels, and use those selected metrics to help you gain insight into your campaigns. In the selection of metrics you use, try to be consistent in your choice across each of your communication channels. By doing this you are not looking at channels in isolation – you are getting consistent insight into engagement across all channels, allowing you to make decisions based on these insights.


For example measure adoption and engagement, collaboration and rich media consumption (video, podcasts), and device consumption (desktop or smartphone). Collate your most influential users and top contributors, plus content, posts, pages and comment trends and popularity.


The future is multichannel measurement


Having access to individual channel metrics is the first part of your journey. To understand your channel effectiveness you need the ability to measure globally by campaign across all your channels.


Taking a multichannel approach – using all your channels to communicate, and measuring across your channels – will empower you to improve your communications going forward and show real business impact to stakeholders.


Newsweaver has compiled a PDF that includes insight from a number of communication experts, providing insight into key issues facing communicators right now. Internal Communication today – Insight from the inside

Leadership and communication lessons from the Apprentice

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In business, securing revenue is key, so this week we saw the focus sharply put on the sharp end of business: sales. The task was simple: sell. Pet products, at a pet show. Cue loads of bad puns.

What not to wear

The first lesson we learned about sales was about matching how you dress to your audience. We saw, possibly for the first time ever, the entire gaggle of wannabes…  without ties! Even Claude Littner treated us to an unbuttoned collar.

If you want to build a connection to your audience, and be seen as a credible connector, then dressing in the right way is key.

Know your market

It is important to do your market research and know your market: so you can identify key focus areas and be credible when you sell. When you are doing your stakeholder analysis, then try to be more insightful than this gem of an insight:

“T-shirts are for humans”, and “In London there is quite a high force of cat lovers”. 

Communicators who limit their stakeholder to this level of analysis are unlikely to make the impact they need to.

“We shouldn’t just jump in and talk about price. We need to build a rapport first.”


Communicators can’t be trusted advisors without building trust.


Clear and incisive decision-making

Your credibility as a leader wins or loses by your capability to have confidence in your own decisions. Of course team input is vital, but indecisiveness gets you nowhere.

Witness this series of statements from the leader of the losing team:

Team member 1: “The two products for me could be the poop bags and the t-shirts.”

Leader: “I was thinking exactly the same thing….[two minutes later] … I definitely think the heat pads and the balloons are the best products for us … [another two minutes later] … I don’t want to hear any more about balloons, we’re going to go for the heat pads and the cat tray.”


Sales & Communication Skills

There is an on-going discussion in The Apprentice about the importance of sales skills. This is always high up on Lord Sugar’s agenda, but today we learned three important lessons about those skills in practice.

First: we saw a couple of people nominating themselves as team leader on the ground that they were good sales people. No, no, no. The skills for team leadership and sales are completely different: putting your best sales person as the sales leader creates two problems: 1) you lose a great sales person, and 2) you risk having a poor leader. As Ruth said, “put your best sales on your best opportunities”.

Ditto communications: being the best communicator or the best at media relations, or the best social media expert, doesn’t necessarily make you the best Director or Manager. Indeed, the guy who claimed he was the best sales manager turned out to be the losing project manager: “you put the wrong people in the wrong place, and not being able to assess what people can do, is bad news in business terms”.

Second: despite the importance of sales skills, Lord Sugar has been known to forgive the occasional sales “duck” (ie zero sales) – especially if the candidate has other skills. However, if you define your main skill as a Sales Trainer, as Ruth did, then surely you need to pace set and demonstrate those skills in practice. Her technique, according to Lord Sugar was “talk talk talk”. I’ve written separately here about the power of listening. Two ears, one mouth: we all know the maths.

Third: back to stakeholder analysis. Witness this exchange:

Ruth:           I don’t think we talked to enough people. I know we’re being criticised for talking to too many people.

Claude:      You’ve got to get rid of the people who can’t pay.

Ruth:           What do you want to say to them? “Please can you just go away?”

Lord Sugar: Yes. Bottom line? “You’ve got no money, sod off.”

In sales, as in communications, it is important to work out who your key audiences (or potential customers) and invest your resources in the right areas.


So what else did we learn from the Apprentice this week?

  1. Male candidates are able to get dressed without putting ties on.
  2. People will spend up to £700 on pet accessories.
  3. Animal balloons!!!!!!!