Hello, and welcome to the Leadership Done Right Podcast, Episode 36: Effectively Communicate and Be Resilient with Suzanne Bates.
Get to Know Suzanne
She’s the author of All the Leader You Can Be: The Science of Achieving Extraordinary Executive Presence (McGraw Hill 2016) and the bestselling Speak Like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results (McGraw Hill 2005), which went to #6 on amazon.com and is now published in seven languages.
The Start of Bates Communication
Suzanne launched the firm in 2000 after 20+ years as an award-winning broadcast journalist in Boston and other national markets.
She’s developed proven coaching and leadership development methods to help leaders build presence and influence, based on her successful career in television journalism and experiences as the first woman anchor in various markets.
She and her team consult with leaders from global organizations such as CVS, TJX, Dow Chemical, State Street, Boeing, Fidelity, and Raytheon.
We connected on LinkedIn and I am honored and humbled to have her on the show. Our guest today is Suzanne Bates. Suzanne, welcome to the show!
Communication is One of the Biggest Needs
Early in Suzanne’s career, she took a leap and transitioned from the news room to CEO of her own entrepreneurial adventure. She decided to start Bates Communication. “I saw the path in my life to make a change. I guess I had the entrepreneurial bug. I started modestly just thinking, perhaps I could carve out a niche as a solo entrepreneur doing presentations, media, and leadership communication coaching.” That’s what she did in the beginning.
As she got to know more leaders, she realized there was a deeper need that she could fill. That required a more comprehensive approach. She built a company and brought in people that had expertise in a variety of areas.
The Need for Communication Coaching
As she consulted with a variety of companies, leaders explained that communication training and skills were the biggest need. That was due to communication breakdowns and challenges to effectively communicate the vision and direction of the organization.
Suzanne explained that “It’s [effectively communicating] the most important thing leaders can do. Learn to tell the story, engage their audiences, connect them to the purpose, and understand what kind of qualities of presence there are.” “Qualities of presence are a lot more than people think. It’s qualities of character like authenticity, integrity, concern about other people, and the substance we bring to our deliberations and decisions.” She explained that it includes things like practical wisdom, decisiveness, and the style of communication we bring.
Perception is Reality
Suzanne explained that often what leaders perceive and what others perceive don’t align. People pay attention to behavior more than they pay attention what people say. Therefore, perception is reality. Often leaders will cancel meetings with those they lead thinking others will understand that they as there are high priorities. In reality, they interpret it as the leader doesn’t have time for them. “You can change people’s perception by making really small changes in behavior.”
Resilience and Bouncing Back
Suzanne has been through a lot of ups and downs in her career. This was especially the case during the 2008-2010 recession. She lost a number of clients that had to cancel their contracts because funding had been cut off.
Suzanne and her team began changing their approach and some of their offerings so they could meet the needs of clients. They also looked for different types of clients compared to what they had served in the past.
One day, one of her best people came in and said, “You don’t have to bring in coffee. We can pay for our own coffee.” She realized in that moment that the team was really dedicated to taking this journey with her.
The experience of going through the economic recession really helped everyone develop resiliency and an ability to bounce back. They learned to work hard and not let the situation get them down. They moved through this challenge by coming up with a plan and moving forward on their plan.
Suzanne learned some key takeaways through this experience. “I certainly learned the importance of turning on a dime and adapting to the situation.” That was another important aspect of resilience. “It’s the ability to get everybody focused on what’s important. Not to be distracted by the bad news, but rather, to really think through what are your options.” She feels that is the reason they were successful. They came up with a plan to move forward in the face of challenges.
The Speed Round
- Who is the one leader you look up to most and why? Angela Merkel for her calm and composure. She is authentic, straightforward, blunt, and she’s funny too!
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Preparation is the work, performance is the relaxation. If you put in the time to prepare your big ideas, understand your audience, write and prepare stories that engage your audience and make proper points, and then practice those, you are going to ace the presentation. It’s important that you set aside three times as much time for practice as you spend on the performance.
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? Time for myself. One of her mentors explained that you have to put on your own oxygen mask first meaning that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan It talks about the dust bowl, what led up to it, how people made it through it, and other great lessons. This book is a great story of resilience.
- On a light-hearted note, what is your favorite hobby? Yoga and Golf
Connect With Suzanne Bates
What’s the best way to connect with Lisa?
- Website: https://www.bates-communications.com Check out all the info under “Perspectives”.
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzannebates/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/CEOCoachBates – @CEOCoachBates
One Final Question
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice when you first started your leadership journey, what would it be and why? Be bold and worry less. It never serves you well to hesitate if you’re called to move in a direction. It’s important to follow your instincts, move in a direction, and be bold!
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Leadership Done Right Podcast. If you would like to listen to the next episode of this podcast, please subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever other podcast platform you use. You can also check out the full list of episodes and platforms with this podcast at LeadershipDoneRight.com/LDRPodcast.
I would like you ask you a special favor. If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, I would really appreciate it if you go to iTunes to write a review of this podcast with your feedback. I read every review and will do my best to make this show the best it can be based on your feedback. That will also increase the visibility of this podcast and help other great listeners like you to hear about it.
Thanks again for listening! My goal is to help you become a great leader, now go be the best leader you can be!