Wednesday night was a special night for Gorkana’s Executive Club as I was delighted to welcome Alastair Campbell to dinner, which is made up of senior leaders from the communications industry. We normally have a varied and free-ranging discussion, and thanks to Alastair and our other guests, this one was no exception.
Over three courses, we discussed global and local politics and politicians, the clear and present danger presented by the Islamic State, as well as the present state (and future) of the comms industry; and, with Alastair’s latest book Winners: And How They Succeed in mind, we also talked about the secrets of effective leadership.
Unsurprisingly, the takeaways were many and varied, and the evening was hugely informative. But, perhaps more significantly, the discussion highlighted that the kind of clear, strategic thinking that makes for effective comms is present in many of the great leaders and winners in business who we reference regularly.
Famously, Alastair is a Burnley FC fan but, in his book, he makes a special reference to Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger. Arsène and Alastair both believe we’ve gone from a vertical, top down society, to a horizontal one, where everyone has an opinion about every decision you make. In such an environment, it is more important than ever that good communicators, like good leaders, know how to cut through the noise and tell their message effectively.
It is as easy to spot the ones that do this well, as well as the ones that don’t.
But, if you find this a little daunting, there’s hope for anyone who wants to improve according to Alastair. He is keen to quote long distance running coach, Colm O’Connell, showing the high-esteem with which arguably our best known PR continues to hold the value of measurement and how feedback can make people perform better. What is a winner in O’Connell’s eyes? Simply put, he says: “The winner is the loser who evaluates himself properly.”