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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Communication is impossible in an environment of lies and confusion. Problem-solving processes simply shut down.

Even when our president begins with a smidgen of truth, he grossly exaggerates it, and then embellishes it with fictitious additions until it all becomes a sea of lies and mass confusion.

Whether it’s about what’s going on in Iran, the treatment of children on the Mexican border, the actual status of his wall, the true impact of Chinese tariffs, his love for North Korea’s dictator, his strange behavior with Putin, his attraction to the Saudi crown prince, his comfort in the company of any dictator, his disrespect for U.S. allies, his total rejection of climate change science, or all of the promises he hasn’t kept… whatever he says is intended to dominate the headlines, but it also produces widespread fear and unrest.

This is not about political ideology. It’s about how communication works… and as a result, his need to make it “all about him” has also made us vulnerable to social upheaval everywhere.       

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There is no such thing as a communication expert… only professionals like me who chose to spend an entire career struggling every day to make it work. One proven communication truth, however, is that people hear what they want to hear.

Some pundits thought both evenings were disasters for the Democrats because there was so much challenging and so little unity. Socialism charges were now easier to make. But others thought that aggressive challenging was a good thing because in “mass” debates like these each person must find a way to stand out. Unity will come later in the process.

So here’s my take. I actually dreaded these debates. I was convinced that we would learn nothing and only add to information overload and confusion. I shrugged them off as “debating games.”

But I must confess I did see some talented, informed, and articulate people. And it was easy to see who was informed about what… healthcare, or tax reform, or climate change, or the military, or foreign policy, or racism, etc.

I can now imagine how time on the road might produce some strong candidates for president, vice president, and cabinet slots… and all without regard to age. I can also see how message guardrails against charges of socialism can easily be built.

When all is said and done, I came away from these debates encouraged that we actually might have the talent and political strength in this country to oppose autocracy, and to bring back American values-based leadership to the world. Please don’t tell me I’m fooling myself.

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Fifty years of trying to make communication work teaches that you can’t have genuine communication without having credibility. And being credible equates with being believable.

While it might be possible to lead for a limited period of time by generating chaos and uncertainty, experience clearly teaches that it is impossible to lead any cause, institution, or government for a sustained period of time without being both credible and believable.

So what establishes leader credibility? Here are some of the essential factors:

Credible leaders are not perfect, but are generally seen as honest, reliable, and extremely well informed…

They also ask for and use expert advice… collaborate every day with competent team associates… behave in a manner that earns respect in all settings… have clear goals that benefit most all constituents… and communicate clearly and concisely.

In the final analysis, history honors the leaders who endure as both credible and believable. The others are quickly exposed for who they really were…

 

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If you think an autocracy is not right for America, here are some strategies and tactics that could be used when carrying out “congressional oversight:”

  1. The Mueller Report provides enough material to support both a “foreign government collusion” and an “obstruction of justice” investigation. So hold a series of “public reviews” under a simple theme like, “Congressional Oversight Review.”
  2. Make an annotated list of those already indicted and/or headed to prison, those who are still under investigation in the southern district of New York or elsewhere, and those in cabinet positions with ethics violations pending. Tell each of these stories in some detail during the oversight reviews.
  3. Identify the key findings that the Mueller report intended for congressional review. Select committee members and other available witnesses to give reports on each finding during the reviews.
  4. Now design a comprehensive strategic communication plan to roll out review conclusions, a few at a time. Include big ads in key states and other markets, and social media messages strategically targeted to selected voter groups.
  5. During these roll-outs, the presidential candidates must keep their campaigns focused on their programs for improving job and career opportunities, access to quality healthcare, access to quality education, training programs for an automation-changed workforce, etc.
  6. Most importantly, candidates must stress their biggest and best idea for the future… the one that differentiates them from the rest. In this age of imagery, they must also come off personally as the one voters simply admire and trust the most.

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The original purpose behind the European Union was simply to keep member countries from starting wars with each other. At the time, competing economically as a unified entity was seen as a secondary bonus.

But now the recent spread of populist nationalism, presidents emerging with autocratic ambitions, the Brexit blow-up in the UK, and Trump’s affection for dictators and daily generated chaos, are all coming together to threaten the existence of the EU… and much more.

Add to this U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a new Trump dictated military relationship with nationalistic Poland, an unstable Israeli government, a provoked and dangerous Iran, a nuclear-loaded maniac in North Korea, a festering and disintegrating Venezuela, an energized and politically meddling Russia, a determined and aggressive China, a still very frightening Syria, and more… and suddenly you have a world literally on the edge of destroying itself.

All this has been analyzed in past posts. So all I can say now is someone better do something… and quick.

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Admittedly a good speech was read by the U.S. president at the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.  But…

BUT this speech was written for him. And he read it against the backdrop of a UK visit marked by ego-flexing, politics meddling, and confusion-generating remarks… a behavior that produced an all time low point in the relationship with our most loyal ally. All the while the Queen was doing everything possible to be gracious and classy.

And then later in a Fox News interview, with Normandy tombstones as his backdrop, the president aimed his most vindictive and cruel name-calling rampage yet at the highest ranking woman in the American government. This craziness simply needs to stop.

 

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Convincing facts are already in the Mueller report. So maybe an alternative to impeachment proceedings is worth considering. In fact, a carefully prepared strategic communication plan might even work better than impeachment. Consider a preparation process that could look something like this:

1. Identify the obstruction and collusion descriptions in the Mueller report and ask the most competent committee members to each select one, and then write a report to be presented at a hearing.

2. Use scheduled hearings to have these reports presented and discussed… one report at each hearing. Invite the public to respond.

3. Also, prepare a concise press release for each report, and follow with major announcements through news and social media channels, including press conferences when the issue warrants.

4. For the presidential candidates, use this press release to prepare talking points on each report.

5. Ask them to reference each announcement as its made, but to still emphasize their big vision for the future, and action plans for the issues they see as most critical, i.e. jobs, healthcare, climate change, infrastructure, housing, taxes, etc.

A focus on impeachment at this time could end up mostly as a distraction. But a focus on what is already in the Mueller report might be a real opportunity to underscore all the substance necessary for a winning strategic communication plan.

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