Helping Leaders Go From Competent to Compelling with Randy Donaldson

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Randy has been a leading business communicator for more than four decades. He has held a variety of leadership positions across the communications spectrum and has spent most of his career advising CEOs and business unit leaders. He has led media relations, internal and executive communications, both in the U.S. and internationally. Randy’s expertise is creating communication strategies that drive employee engagement and corporate performance across organizations.

On today’s episode, we’ll be discussing the importance of clear communication, challenges faced by leaders in conveying genuine leadership, and how leaders can improve their communication skills. All too often, we see leaders fall into discussing their area of expertise or relying on their tools and datasets—a practice that pulls the audience out of the experience.

Customers need a clear story that resonates with their wants, needs, and expectations in order to stand firmly behind a brand. Companies seeking to stand the test of time must communicate clearly and provide a clear set of values and intentions that customers can rally around—give them a definite sense of greater purpose.

Show Highlights

  • 6:20 – How can leaders effectively read the room? Do tools harm presentations more than they help?
  • 7:30 – How do you address a customer’s wants, needs, and feelings while involving them in something larger than themselves?
  • 8:30 – Are listeners more likely to challenge authority sources now than five years ago?
  • 9:00 – Donaldson affirms that leadership legitimacy is built over time, but it can be started and accelerated in single instances.
  • 10:15 – How does corporate language affect employees at difficult times? Bluntness?
  • 13:20 – Leadership should have some origins within the organization being led.
  • 15:00 – Leaders have to invest their time in crafting their own story. How does using a fabricated story impact their appearance?
  • 17:40 – Randy notes that some personality types tend to excel at storytelling from the beginning, but can others readily be coached?
  • 25:40 – Stories tend to convey information better and increase retention.
  • 27:30 – Simplicity should be at the heart of business. If customers can’t understand a business, they’ll struggle to support it.

Guest Information:

Randy has held a variety of leadership positions across the communications spectrum, for most of his career advising CEO’s and business unit leaders at The Coca-Cola Company. During his 34 years at Coke, he worked in and led media relations, financial communications, internal communications and executive communications, both in the U.S. and other parts of the world. As a consultant, he has worked with Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center — one of the largest arts centers in the world — to provide assistance on communications strategy, media relations and patron experience.

He provides strong writing and communications skills and common sense approaches to challenges and opportunities that have marked his prior experience as a communications leader, public relations counselor and journalist.

You can find more information about Randy on Linkedin:

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Leading with Purpose: How to Engage Employees from the C-Suite with Fredda McDonald

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Fredda McDonald is Managing Director with World50, a member-based organization that brings leaders together from around the globe to share their ideas, insights, and solutions. On today’s episode, we’ll be talking about the role of the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO), storytelling, and leadership qualities that foster employee engagement.

In this episode, Fredda and Sally will discuss how to leverage storytelling to lead with purpose. When employees understand what they are working toward and why it actually matters, they are drawn into their work. Leaders who can engage both the head and heart of their employees have a better chance of gaining buy-in.

We’ll discuss how leaders can generate and boost morale within their organizations by building a strong relationship with other members of the C-suite. Some of the methods she will cover include polling for employee engagement at all levels of the organization and even having a third party collect information directly from the source.

We also follow Fredda down memory lane as she traces some stories where leaders have effectively implemented the steps mentioned above and how they impacted the overall employee experience.

Show Highlights

  • 03:10 – What is the difference between mission, vision, and purpose statements? How does understanding why employees are doing their job impact their experience at work?
  • 07:00 – How do weak relationships at the C-level impact employee experience?
  • 08:10 – Each executive needs to have their own story and be able to explain it simply.
  • 08:30 – Be real. Employees watch actions more than they listen to your speeches.
  • 12:00 – How did a Silicon Valley company work with a 3rd party to get unfiltered information in employee surveys?
  • 16:00 – A CHRO is frequently tasked with making the call to focus on enterprise success and collaboration. What struggles do businesses face in seeking to stand the test of time and survive disruption?
  • 20:00 – How have employees expectations of leadership qualities changed over the last half decade to highlight vulnerability and authenticity? Can too much vulnerability undermine employee confidence?
  • 27:30 – Does having a background as a CMO help in the CHRO role? How so?
  • 28:10 – What is the brand behind a company?
  • 39:00 – Identifying non-traditional ways to foster collaboration can pull even the most disparate teams together. One company uses an annual “Battle of the Bands” to foster collaboration.

Guest Information

Prior to taking her role at World 50, Fredda published a book entitled, BoxBreakers, an Amazon bestseller in the business category, for leaders seeking to inspire innovation in the workplace as a sustainable business practice. The content for the book was gathered from experience she gained serving in senior executive roles with the International Olympic Committee and electronic payments giant MasterCard Worldwide – and from working with global leaders from Delta Air Lines, the Coca-Cola Company and other Fortune 500 companies as a consultant.

You can find out more about Fredda on Linkedin:

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!