This article explores the ways in

https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488416687053 International Journal of Business Communication 2017, Vol. 54(2) 146160 The Author(s) 2017 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/2329488416687053 journals.sagepub.com/home/job Article Strategic Communication in the C-Suite Paul A. Argenti1 Abstract This article explores the ways in which C-suite executives are using corporate communications to execute strategy. Over the past two decades, we have seen a profound shift in how leaders view communications within organizations. This shift has moved from a tactical and superficial focus (speech writing, media placements) to a more strategic and elevated level (developing and implementing strategy through communication, sophisticated measurement using big data to understand constituencies and influence reputation). Thus, the central research question in this article is focused on the following theme: How do leaders use communications to execute strategy in the 21st century? Through a review of current literature on the topic and synthesis of both published and newly conducted interviews, the article provides a snapshot of leadership communication in organizations today as it relates to the execution of strategy. Keywords corporate communication, alignment, strategy execution, culture Company executives today have to think about using communications strategically to execute strategy to match increasingly complex organizations and business settings. While much academic research has studied how practitioners should theoretically be using communications, little has been done to study how successful leaders actually use communication to successfully execute strategy within their organizations. This article will attempt to fill that gap by examining some of the practices of these executives. Previous academic articles and researchers define strategic communication as that which is aligned with the companys overall strategy, to enhance its strategic 1Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH, USA Corresponding Author: Paul A. Argenti, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, 100 Tuck Hall, Hanover, NH 03755, USA. Email: paul.argenti@dartmouth.edu 687053 JOBXXX10.1177/2329488416687053International Journal of Business CommunicationArgenti research-article2017 Argenti 147 positioning (Argenti, Howell, & Beck, 2005, p. 83) or the deliberate design of a communication strategy to interpret an organizations vision, values, goals and intentions to its audiences (Steyn, 2003, p. 177). Thomas and Stephens (2015) note that the concept of strategic communications might be further defined by the lens through which it is studied: management strategy, communication theory, or research method. This is a helpful distinction, and this article will examine aspects of strategic communication through the lens of management strategy, specifically how C-suite level management uses it as a tool for executing strategy. This article seeks to elucidate how corporate leaders use communication to execute strategy. We will demonstrate how strategic communication is relevant for firms internal communications, transformations, innovation execution, and culture. This article will expand on the current research of strategic communication, which is surveyed in the first section of the article, through an in-depth analysis of various accounts of how leaders have used communication to execute strategy. These accounts include new interviews conducted for this research as well as published accounts of how leaders have used communication to execute strategy. Through our research, we sought to further enhance the understanding of internal communications as a means of executing strategy. Best Practices From Academic Research Leadership, Strategic Vision, and C-Suite Communications For the purpose of this article, we define a leader as a person in a company who develops and executes organizational strategy through management of people and communication. Although there is extensive research on the personal and interpersonal traits of a leader, we make no such value statements for this article. Rather, we identify organizational leaders by the responsibilities and roles they are assigned; in this case, we look to individuals who occupy the C-suite. With that definition in mind, among the myriad roles a senior executive leader fills within an organization, one of the most fundamental is that of chief communicator of the organizations vision. Hart and Quinn (1993) identify this role as the Vision Setter and describe it as one of creating a sense of identity and missionthe definition and articulation of the firms basic purpose and future direction (p. 551). How institutional leaders use language to communicate this vision is a concept that has also been studied (Mayfield, Mayfield, & Sharbrough, 2015; Westley & Mintzberg, 1989). Westley and Mintzberg (1989) further describe strategic visionaries as those who not only stick doggedly to the oral and written repetition of the vision, but who are able also to translate that vision across different mediums, exposing employees to this vision through word and deed. Moreover, according to a survey of seven charismatic leadership theories, creating and communicating vision are identified as some of the leadership characteristics that most influenced organizational performance (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1996). Berggen and Bernshteyn (2007) posit that transparency of vision and direction of the company 148 International Journal of Business Communication 54(2) drives positive performance. The conclusion drawn from these studies suggests that being able to communicate vision would appear to be not only an ability demanded of leadership but also one indicator of future success. Executing Strategy From the C-Suite A growing field of research supports the idea that communication is becoming an increasingly important element of strategy execution (Cornelissen, van Bekkum, & van Ruler, 2006). Internal communication about the ongoing strategy and status of the organization can lead to employees being more engaged and feeling more connected to their work, leading to higher productivity and quality (Pinos, Twigg, Parayitam, & Olson, 2006). This academic research is supported by practitioner research, as Spreitzer and Porath (2012) propose in their article about feedback and communications providing a better environment for employees to grow and feel valued. To that end, much of the authority granted to the corporate communication function is based on the perception of the chief communication officers (CCO) ability to contribute strategically. Business leaders who view their CCO as being able to contribute strategically are more likely to value them and the contribution of the function to the organizations success (Bronn, 2014). Where the communication manager sits within an organizational hierarchy and the reporting relationship has an impact on perceived participation in strategic decision making (Grunig, 1990). Senior managements perception of the importance of the communication function depends on the seniority of the head of communications and frequency and ease of access to the chief executive officer (CEO; MacMillan, 1991). CCOs with direct reporting lines to the CEO are more likely to participate in decisions (Tushman & Scanlan, 1981). In turn, CEOs are looking for their CCOs to take a more strategic and interactive role within the senior leadership of the company. A recent report from the Arthur W. Page Society examines the role of the CCO as an organizational integrator. Throughout the firm and across the C-suite, CCOs must be leaders of cross-functional collaboration and the integration of the organizations strategic priorities. CEOs are looking for CCOs to take a more strategic and interactive role within the senior leadership of the company (Arthur W. Page Society, 2016, p. 20). A 2012 global study commissioned by Weber Shandwick found that 86% of chief executives report that their companies have increased their efforts to build reputation over the past few years by developing integrated communications (Weber Shandwick, 2012). C-Suite Communication, Success, and Culture The ability of executives to use strategic communications effectively can be a strong predictor of organizational success. One study showed a highly positive correlation between the ability of leadership to effect change within the organization and leaderships ability to communicate (Gilley, Gilley, & McMillan, 2009). Einwiller and Boenigk (2012) conducted a study that examined internal and external Argenti 149 communications, and the correlation between those practices and both soft and empirical performance. Their research showed higher satisfaction rates among employees and customers when management allocated more time and resources to integrated communications. This study also showed a positive although relatively weak correlation between the size of company communications budgets and market performance. Although we could simply draw the line between an emphasis on communication and increased performance, it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance and contributions of a stronger culture that ensues when communication is valued. Corporations are more far-flung than ever before and continue to spread their control across the globe. As our world continues to flatten, it is not how companies outsource or globalize that will truly differentiate them, but rather how companies engage their best employees locally that that will drive their global strategies forward cohesively despite geographic separation. Companies must act deliberately in their efforts to build an organizational culture rooted in action, accountability, and authenticity (Van Riel, 2008). Building a strong culture is one way to create alignment, harness maximum individual and collective brainpower, and keep a company nimble and responsive to the evolving world around it. Value-based inducements, such as mission statements, influence how employees identify with the organization (Larson & Pepper, 2003), and thus inform the culture. Value-based identities often influence employees perceptions of organizations and organizational issues. Employees go through a process of identification where they bond with a particular value-based identity (Larson & Pepper, 2003). Discourse is a powerful influence to shape employee identities, which ultimately results in enhanced commitment to the company (Larson & Pepper, 2003). Employees are not simply passive receptacles of corporate messaging; instead, they actively participate in choosing and building the identity they most associate with (Larson & Pepper, 2003). Postmes, Tanis, and de Wits study (2001) presents evidence that direct communication between employees and management is strongly related to commitment. Strh (2006) argued for the constant strategic use of communication to build positive relationships with stakeholders. Active employee participation and engagement is sustained in aligned cultures through consistent communication from senior management (Argenti & Van Riel, 2016). C-Suite Communication and Change Management An important element of executing strategy involves leading an organization through periods of change. Executives can use strategic communication to empower and reassure employees during these periods. Larson and Pepper (2003) examine the negotiation of meaning and identity through strategic communication efforts at an aerospace company navigating significant industry changes. The authors findings support the idea that employees use communication to manage internal pressures at the organization related to external change. Gadiesh and Gilbert (2001) point out the importance of empowering employees to fuel innovation. They argue that within a company, 150 International Journal of Business Communication 54(2) decentralizing decision making while maintaining coherent strategy remains a difficult challenge. The authors stress the importance of a strategic principle, defined as a memorable and actionable phrase that distills a companys corporate strategy into its unique essence and communicates it throughout the organization (p. 74). An effectively designed and communicated strategic principle drives successful decentralized decision making where managers can be trusted to make decisions that advance rather than undermine company strategy (Gadiesh & Gilbert, 2001, p. 74). The strategic direction of an organization manifests itself in general organizational goals as well as in the organizations general approach to work. Communication is important in overcoming resistance to proposed changes, as well as developing further improvements and implementing them. Motivating and communicating with employees is highly correlated with effective change implementation. Per Fidler and Johnson (1984), successful innovation implementation is the routinization, incorporation, and stabilization of the innovation into ongoing work activity of organizational units (p. 705). The Chairman and CEO of Mondelez International noted, A big part of any leaders job is to communicate clearly and communicate often, particularly in times of change (Scudder, 2014). Transformational changes, such as mergers and acquisitions, crises, and strategic implementation, often represent highly charged situations in which communication can make or break companies, or leaders. As Schweiger and Denisi (1991) note, it is uncertainty, rather than change, that stress employees and the organization as a whole. Moreover, employees not only need to understand the rationale behind major changes but also the progress of the changes. Consistent with this idea is Dolan and Garcias (2002) notion of managing by values. According to this conceptualization, bosses become facilitators tasked with simplifying the organization so that it can better adapt. In addition, facilitators guide the strategic vision of the company and secure commitment from employees in their daily work. A study conducted by Gilley et al. (2009) emphasizes the need for leaders and change agents to focus on the emotional aspects of change. Schweiger and Denisis (1991) study, for example, provides solid evidence that providing employees with realistic merger previews may alleviate employee stress and increase trust in management and the company, thereby mitigating some of the negative effects associated with a major change (mergers and acquisitions, in this particular study). Providing employees with realistic merger previews took time and effort, including in-person meetings and two-way communication between employees and managers over the course of several months. The broader lesson here lies in companywide communication across all levels during times of uncertainty. Moreover, these conversations could serve as valuable opportunities for sharing important individual learning across the organization. These interactions could also enable the dissemination of the strategic and cultural vision of the organization, thus strengthening commitment and providing orientation. Given the high degrees of uncertainty inherent in transformation efforts, leaders development of change implementation techniques in communication, specifically in addressing employees concerns and appealing to their motivations, could prove pivotal to success. Argenti 151 Methodology To expand on the current research of communication as a tool to execute strategy, we sought to collect and synthesize real-world examples, viewing them through the lens of management strategy. While much of the current literature has been more prescriptive in nature, the current study augments the understanding of the extent to which thorough communication and strategy execution are deeply intertwined by analyzing and synthesizing actual accounts of senior leaders experiences. Primary research was conducted through 15 individual interviews, conducted in person, over the phone, and via e-mail. Extensive notes, including direct quotations, were taken during interviews in person or over the phone. The research team gathered insights from current or former C-suite level leaders within organizations that had experienced significant change or transformation during their tenure (Aetna, Knoll, and Siemens), or individuals who are recognized as leaders among corporate communications practitioners (current and former top management of leading public relations professional organizations). All participants had been part of implementing strategy execution during their tenure. The executives interviewed had experience in the luxury retail, travel, pharma, consumer durable goods, and other industries. In total, 50 individuals were contacted with requests to participate in the interview, and we were able to conduct adequate interviews with 15 of these executives. Seven of the interviews were done in-person or over the phone and eight were done via e-mail. For a list of executives interviewed for this study, see Appendix A. These qualitative interviews were structured in advance by the research team (see Appendix B) and were slated to last for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. The interviews often veered from the structured questions, providing rich content and going over the allotted time. The questions developed by the research team were aimed at generating a deeper understanding of aspects of executing strategy through communication. The narrative guiding the composition of these questions was attempting to show that from everyday operations to large-scale transformations, many executives are seeing communications as an integral part of strategy execution. The research team also examined these questions through the lens of the consolidated corporate communication strategy framework. This framework (see Figure 1) views communication as a circular rather than a linear progression, with communicators consistently comparing constituency responses to messaging, and reacting accordingly. Given the different forms of interview data, we used three different approaches to analyze this information to form conclusions that would be relevant for this article: a structured/formal approach, a descriptive/interpretive approach, and a less structured/ informal approach. In the first case, structured/formal, the researcher used content analysis and a hypothesis testing approach. In the second case, descriptive/interpretive, we tried to understand the meaning of the interviews and interpreted the data directly. And, finally in the less structured/informal approach, the researcher used immersion and reflection techniques. In beginning to analyze this qualitative data, we first looked to major themes suggested in previous studies as well as the questions that were posed to the interviewees. 152 International Journal of Business Communication 54(2) Themes included: the relationship between communication, culture, and strategy execution; communication during change management; and the evolution of the role of communication professionals. Following further readings of the interview notes, additional themes emerged, including the importance of trust, the emphasis on values, and communication across management levels. Findings Based on an analysis of published interviews as well as our own primary research, we found that three broad themes emerged to explain how leaders are using communication to execute strategy today. First and most important is having a clearly articulated strategy that gets repeated broadly and consistently. This point was discussed extensively in earlier research (Argenti et al., 2005) and came up repeatedly in interviews for this article. Second, the deliberate development of a culture emerged as central to the execution of strategy through communication. The author conducted extensive research on this subject that has been used in executive education, but never published Figure 1. Consolidated corporate communications strategy framework. Note. Adapted from Argenti (2016). Argenti 153 before this study. Third, and also based on previous research (Argenti, 2002), being present and personally delivering the message was a critical success factor for leaders executing strategy through communication. Clear Strategy Repeated Consistently The starting point for executing strategy is for employees at all levels of the company to understand what the strategy is. To promote understanding, the strategy must be clear and must be consistent. As the chief financial officer (CFO) of Quintiles, Mike McDonnell, said in an interview: Once a strategy has been developed, it is again all about communication. You need to develop key phrases or buzz words that will remind people what your corporate goals and strategy are all about (M. McDonald, personal communication, April 29, 2016). Former Governor of New Hampshire and former CEO of Knoll, John Lynch, talked extensively about how important it was to communicate consistently: The Theory of the Fix was my strategy for fixing Knoll: if we cut $70 million right away, the margin would pop (J. Lynch, personal communication, May 3, 2016). He talked about this theory with everyone in the company: I shared it with every single person throughout the organization. I would actually see this theory taped up on the factory floor. You could ask anyone in the company what is the theory for fixing Knoll? and everyone could answer the question. Everyone knew why we were doing it. They might not have liked it, but they were more likely to buy into it if they were completely clear to the strategy of the firm. Eric Spiegel, President and CEO of Siemens USA, said, In this kind of position, youre kind of always on. Youre always communicatinginternally or externally and you need to make sure that all of your comments are aligned with the broader strategy (E. Spiegel, personal communication, August 31, 2016). Peter Verrengia of Communications Consulting Worldwide added, No member of the management team [should] ever start a presentation to employees with a blank piece of paper (P. Verrengia, personal communications, August 9, 2016). John LeBoutillier, CEO of Unilever Canada commented, We use communications extensively to execute strategy: You need to express the strategy in multiple formats such as town halls, newsletters, roundtables, and formal presentations (J. LeBoutillier, personal communication, May 6, 2016). This alignment across all levels requires investment in professionals to support such communication efforts. Indeed, all the executives interviewed had made the business case that this investment was vital, often making the decision to bring on communications professionals in the first days or weeks of their tenure, as Eric Siegel did at Siemens. The Arthur W. Page Society, an organization made up of the top communications officers at the largest companies, has studied the development of the CCO as strategist and integrator. As Mike Fernandez, Corporate Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Cargill explained in the report: We talk about engaging and positively shaping the environment in which the company 154 International Journal of Business Communication 54(2) operates. That has moved the [CCO] function from being not just a group of communicators, but of business strategists and problem solvers (Arthur W. Page Society, 2016, p. 24). The theme that emerged from the interviews was this: Leaders need to first have a clear strategy, then make sure that everyone can repeat the strategy consistently so that the company can execute that strategy. As Mike Glenn, Executive Vice President at FedEx put it, You cant execute it if you cant communicate it (Argenti et al., 2005). Creating a Culture for Strategy Execution The C-suite appears to have acknowledged that employees who are looped in and genuinely excited about their workplacebelieving in what they do and the values underpinning their organizationswill be more productive and creative, willing to exert more physical and mental energy, and devote the best of themselves to the job. This type of employee engagement does not happen by accident. Given companies scale and reach today (many of the companies we interviewed have hundreds of thousands of employees), keeping employees aligned culturally has become an increasingly essentialand increasingly difficultfactor in successfully implementing a corporate strategy and maintaining a competitive edge. Bill Margaritis, formerly CCO of FedEx and Hilton Worldwide, noted, Internal communications plays a key role in shaping culture and behaviors by helping align business priorities, programs, values and actions across the enterprise (B. Margaritis, personal communication, August 16, 2016). Jen Prosek, founder and CEO of awardwinning PR firm Prosek Partners, talked about using internal communications to create a culture of transparency and encouraging feedback. At her firm, We believe in over communicating and allowing a greater level of transparency than our competition, as we believe that when employees have extreme levels of information they can make faster, owner-like decisions (J. Prosek, personal communication, August 18, 2016). These themes of transparency and values in the interest of informing a corporate culture were repeated across multiple interviews. Both Doug Laue, CFO of Davidoff of Geneva, and Dave Samson, General Manager of Public Affairs at Chevron, mentioned the importance of seeing people live the values of their respective companies. Samson related a conversation with a relatively new colleague, in which she said that while she had initially been skeptical of Chevrons values statements, she was impressed by the extent to which she saw her coworkers truly internalizing them (D. Samson, personal communication, July 22, 2016). Another tactic that many executives cited throughout the interviews was an emphasis on making this consistent strategy personal, especially for frontline employees. Many executivesincluding those from Siemens, Chevron, and Hiltonmentioned storytelling and real-life anecdotes as useful vehicles for emphasizing the alignment of strategic goals with frontline action. When Roger Bolton was brought on as Senior Vice President of Communications during a massive overhaul of Aetnas strategy in the 1990s, he required that managers actively seek out these stories to show Aetnas values in action (R. Bolton, personal communication, August 11, 2016). Argenti 155 Perhaps most critical in building a strong and aligned culture, however, is managements maintenance of a strong two-way dialogue. Nearly every executive used the word trust in describing cultures that weather good times and bad. Once employees become part of this dialogue and understand their personal connection with corporate strategy and valuesthey are likelier to believe it is in their best interest to further the best interests of the organization as well. The Presence of Leaders Is Essential Particularly in crises and in transformation, the leader of an organization needs to be present. In previous research focused on extreme crises such as 9/11 (Argenti, 2002) and in transformational change (as discussed with several executives for this study and the subject of many of the authors case studies), the presence and even the voice of the CEO in particular was critical to restoring the organization to normalcy or moving the organization to a new place. As Mike McDonnell, CFO of Quintiles, stated (M. McDonnell, personal communication, April 29, 2016): This is hard because you are in crisis mode and on your back foot. There simply isnt enough time to communicate eloquently. Long, well thought out emails become impossible. My experience in these situations is that there is no substitute for in-person communication. Call short impromptu meetings when you can and bring the right people into the room. Tell them what is going on. Thank them for their efforts, and tell them that you care. Remind them to keep their perspective . . . and that things will get better. Distinguish between what can be controlled and what cannot. Seek their commitment and promise the same in return. Andrea Jung, former CEO of Avon, talked about a concept that she used to rally people around change: Im a very, very big believer in what I call hypercommunication. Whats that? Well, we have always been about high-level communication and motivation; that is how the company was born and bred. Its in the Avon DNA. So I got on a plane, went all over the world and probably touched thousands of associates. Interestingly, I touched all the associates before we knew exactly what we were going to do. We knew we were going to have to do some bold restructuring, taking out eight of the fifteen layers of the organization. So 25 to 30 percent of middle to upper management was going to be restructured. And I made the distinct decision to communicate this before we even laid one eye on one piece of paper or one name. So I went out and I touched all of the people that would be the potential pool of associates and explained personally, in general terms, what we were going to do and why the company needed to do it right now; how the layers had made us ineffective and driven us too far from the consumer damaging our competitiveness. . . . The honesty, the speed of communicating our plans, and doing so in person helped enormously in the transition phrase. (Hanson & Mertens, 2008, pp. 12-15) 156 International Journal of Business Communication 54(2) Across the board, communications was cited as critical to both transformation and crises (which are very similar constructs in the eyes of senior executives, something to be explored in further research). The CEO of a leading luxury retailer said that he could not accomplish anything without a sound, strategic approach to communication. And former CEO and Governor Lynch underscored this in his interview: A big part of getting a company in a downward spiral to turn around is communications. And finally, as Andrea Jung put it most eloquently: Strategy tells you where to go, but communications inspires people to go there with you. It is the only thing that ever does (Culp, 2010). Summary of Findings and Recommendations While several other lessons emerge from the interviews we conducted and analyzed, the themes above tied in with the previous research that we chronicled in our literature review and dominated most of the conversations. To summarize our findings overall, the analysis of our interviews revealed the following: 1. As companies are increasingly spread out geographically, corporate leadership needs to be deliberate in encouraging employees to act as one, aligned both strategically and culturally. As with Governor Lynchs experience at Knoll, having everyone on the same page is critical to executing strategic initiatives. 2. Consistent and constant two-way communication is an important part of creating this alignment. Transparency builds trust, and employees are more engaged with an organizations values and vision if they feel that they are part of the conversation. 3. The best organizations today have leaders who are omnipresent and hypercommunicators. As Andrea Lung noted, leaders were physically present much of the time and understood the role they play in executing strategy through strategic communication. We took away some additional insights from the interviews that might not fit with the main takeaways, but which we believe are useful for further discussion. First, building trust and confidence in an organizations values and direction is not something that can happen during a crisis. That work needs to be well-established before an organization is faced with the uncertainty and doubt inherent in times of change. Jen Prosek addressed this directly: You can only achieve results in a crisis or change management situation if you have already established a foundation of regular transparent two way communications with employees and have established some level of trust (J. Prosek, personal communication, August 18, 2016). Peter Verrengia also noted, Structure or people may come and go, but when employees know that values are consistent, are an advantage to creating good outcomes for everyone, and are enforced, Argenti 157 that provides a solid counterbalance to the feelings of personal risk that are unavoidable in times of change or crisis. (P. Verrengia, personal communication, August 9, 2016) This relates back to the idea of making the strategy and the values personal for the employees: Managers should assume that during any time of change, employees are asking themselves, What does this mean for me? It is important to recognize and address that anxiety before rumors and misinformation disrupt any change efforts. Second, if a CCO is to be the most effective, that individual must have a wide range of responsibilities. Eric Spiegel made the change at Siemens early on, moving internal communications from a marketing-oriented function to a more strategic one. As President of the Arthur W. Page Society, Roger Bolton is in regular contact with top communications officers. His impression is that the best CCOs are the ones whose responsibilities go beyond communications and are integrated into operations and finance (R. Bolton, personal communication, July 11, 2016). This not only establishes the CCO as a strategic member of a leadership team, but it has the added effect of ensuring that the company is aligned strategically across departments. Finally, both Bill Margaritis and Peter Verrengia reiterated that communication cannot just happen from the top-down. Some of the most effective conversations happen between employees. If managers and leadership teams keep this dynamic in mind, it might help them in their efforts to communicate values and strategies clearly and consistently. Discussion and Conclusion Our hope is that this study will help other academics understand more clearly how the leaders of organizations view communications within their organizations to help them do several things. Our expectation is that other researchers will be able to conduct follow-up research on each of the different findings reported above. For example, research on the strategy development process could look at both the process itself as well as the approach that consultants and executives take to see ways to maximize the effectiveness of communications. In addition, academics could conduct quantitative research to determine how many executives in a company can easily articulate the strategy. Or they could focus on improving the measurement tools that are being developed to make them more successful in terms of outcomes. In addition to follow-up research, academics need to design communications courses for students pursuing business careers that will help them navigate this terrain. What specific tools do business students need besides the basic building blocks of communication to be able to be effective in leadership communication? Is an understanding of communication strategy enough, or do they also need to understand organizational communications issues, the process of communication, and the historical context within their organization to get this right? How do we create new approaches to teaching these concepts to embed ideas in students when they are relatively young and not at the C-suite level? Given that strategic approaches to communication are much more important in organizations than ever before, we as academics have an obligation to help the 158 International Journal of Business Communication 54(2) business leaders of tomorrow find ways to be more effective communicators and leaders. The goal of this article is to move us closer to that direction. Appendix A Interview Participantsa. Roger Bolton Former Senior Vice President of Communications, Aetna; President, Arthur W. Page Society Doug Laue CFO, Davidoff of Geneva John LeBoutillier CEO, Unilever Canada John Lynch Former CEO, Knoll, Inc.; Former Governor, State of New Hampshire Bill Margaritis Former CCO, FedEx; Former CCO, Hilton Worldwide Mike McDonnell CFO, Quintiles Jen Prosek Founder and CEO, Prosek Partners Eric Spiegel President and CEO, Siemens USA Peter Verrengia President and Senior Partner, Communications Consulting Worldwide Dave Samson General Manager of Public Affairs, Chevron aSome executives preferred not to be named or quoted directly for this article. Appendix B Interview Questions. These questions were sent to all interviewees in advance of the actual interview. 1. How do you use internal communications to execute strategy? 2. How do you use communication when your company is going through a significant transformation, that is, new leadership or change in organizational structure? What about in a crisis situation, particularly when the companys reputation is in question? How do you communicate with your employees to achieve results? 3. How have you built communication best practices into your organizational structure? This could include the hiring of C-suite/director level communications professionals; do these people participate in high-level strategic decisions? How much of the responsibility for effective communication is on a communication professional versus you? Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. 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