Through forceful, encouraging words, Mayor Rudy Giuliani united New
York City against the backdrop of a shattered skyline. Like FDR, who
raised America's morale during the Great Depression through his Fireside
Chats, and Winston Churchill, who ceaselessly inspired his people during
the London Blitz, "Rudy the Rock" soared to new heights of leadership
following the events of September 11. With Americans anxious, New York's
mayor brought to his constituents, and countrymen, a sense of security
and purpose, notions that historically rally the American spirit.
Giuliani's leadership, characterized by his formidable public speaking
skills, demonstrates the power of communication.
The suggestion that communication is the tie that binds and the remedy
that heals may be regarded as being naive and idealistic. Some in
corporate America don't believe that something so essentially simple and
fundamental to human nature can be so effective. However, as a
communications professional, with goals beyond just the pitch, this
precept is my lifeblood. As I behold a country applauding its leaders,
not knowing the specific details of their policies, but rallying behind
their words, critics should take notice.
As Giuliani exhibited, communication is not a luxury. It's the power
that brings an organization together and moves it forward. It is not
solely about company-wide e-mails, newsletters, or voice-mail messages
during tough times. It is about getting in front of people, during good
times and bad, and sharing goals, challenges, and expectations. It is
reaching out to individuals and motivating them to become members of the
During these difficult times, communications cannot be sacrificed as
buckles tighten. With our nation at war, companies downsizing, and
massive mergers about, water-cooler gossip can easily replace boardroom
Think of those employees who have witnessed layoffs. Will they continue
to perform or spend company time agonizing over their own futures? Think
of those companies who have been displaced due to the events of
September 11. Will divisions in different locales be able to fulfill
corporate goals and connect with coworkers efficiently and
economically? As I am told that communications is not an investment that
adds to a company's bottom line, I wonder what the consequences are for
having an uninspired and uninformed workforce.
Corporations can learn valuable lessons from FDR, Churchill, and
Giuliani, none more important than the power of communication. As the
world outside becomes more uncertain, one's commitment to forge ahead
and keep on track is paramount. A commitment to communicate effectively
- with the goals of keeping people motivated, informed, focused, and
proud - must be stronger than ever.