Lisa Osborne-Ross & Dani Veira
Lisa Osborne Ross (L),
Dani Veira

The importance of leading by example and creating an environment where communicators can be inspired and succeed in their positions was the focus of the Washington Women in Public Relations Sept. 15 webinar on “The Intersection of Leadership Coaching and Communications.”

Edelman US chief executive officer Lisa Osborne Ross and WWPR past president Dani Veira, a veteran communicator working in nonprofit and advocacy as well as the founder of leadership coaching and communications firm Minerva’s Legacy Consulting Group, led a spirited meeting on the importance of having a coach and mentor throughout one’s career and how a communicator can become a good coach.

Veira said being a good coach requires staying true to yourself and your beliefs in all areas of your life. “Who you are as a leader at work is very similar to who you might be as a leader in your household or in your relationships or in your friendships,” she stated.

Edelman’s Ross agreed that “being your authentic self” is critical.

She said that when counseling CEOs, she might ask them, “You’re willing to post Black Lives Matter on your website, you’re willing to sign a petition or something, but who are you at home? Are you willing to put a Black Lives Matter sign on your lawn?”

“You have to be who you are and then execute that in the world around you,” she added.

“I 1,000 percent agree,” Veira said. “As communicators, we don’t get to not be our authentic selves. That takes away from our ability to do our jobs well.”

Coaching is critical

That is where the importance of coaching comes in. “People don’t sometimes even know that they need coaching,” asserted Ross, adding, “you’re constantly having to grow and having to evolve and you need a coach to kind of walk you through that.”

When talking about the world of communications today, Ross said, “As communicators, this is our time.”

She talked about how CEOs have always relied on their marketing directors and the CFOs. Now more than ever, communications pros and human resources managers are a big part of the team providing counsel to the heads of corporations.

When talking about the importance of how coaching is so vital to helping people in their careers, Veira said, “I was lucky to have a supervisor that offered that up.” She continued, “So many of us could be that supervisor.”

Employees want to trust their CEO

According to Ross, Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer revealed that “CEOs and business leaders are whom people trust right now.”

For CEOs, she said, “It still comes down to trust,” adding that “a lot of boards are making changes in that CEO role because the requirements are different right now. You’ve got to lean into the empathy part of that in order to lead.”

She also stressed how important it is to take care of yourself physically when working. “You have to take care of yourself,” she said, adding that “I try to lead by example.”

Veira agreed that leading by example is key: “You create the culture and everybody follows your lead.”

When talking about retaining employees, Ross accepted the fact that people will leave a job “as a part of running a business.”

However, she said leaders must still work on retention of employees. “When I think about my colleagues, I want to create an environment where they see a path forward and they can do well,” she said.