One of the big challenges that we as communication professionals face is that we don’t collectively appreciate the magnitude and significance of the contributions we make to business. We don’t fully illustrate how we can convert ideas into impact. To address this we developed an IABC 2022 World Conference session — “The Superpowers of Communication Professionals” — to give our most important skills the recognition they deserve and boost the confidence of our fellow incognito super heroes who put those skills into action. We want them to be ablet to confidently step out into the bright spotlight and draw attention with the value that we bring.
What are the superpowers of communication professionals?
We identified 11 distinct skills that merited discussion as “communication professional superpowers,” because they move beyond the transactional production and craft skills into being able to deliver impact at scale — things like amplification (the ability to increase the reach and scale of a conversation), contextualization (the ability to put individual concerns and events into a broader story or perspective) and mobilization (the ability to get people to change behaviors and take action).
As you would expect at an IABC World Conference, we were speaking with the converted, as 92% already believed that communication professionals have superpowers to some degree. We hope with this article that you reflect on your own superpowers and take up the challenge to encourage your fellow communicators to proudly wear their powers with pride.
In recognizing our superpower-grade skills, we essentially recognize communication pros as superheroes in our own right while, at the same time, noting that we also need to look at how we deploy these superpowers and respond to blockers that keep us from achieving superhuman success.
Our Top Superpowers
Of those in the room at World Conference, 45 people participated. The most popular superpowers were connecting (nine votes) and listening (eight votes). We also had some interesting ones, listed in the word cloud below.
Our Top Blockers
During our live polling, time (and not enough time) stood out as the greatest blocker with 17 votes in the room. Politics was the second, coming in with five votes from 43 people. See more responses in the word cloud below.
There’s a lot of focus on insufficient time as a blocker from doing anything impactful, but a lot of those time issues are consumed either by less important priorities or by worrying about whether one has the permission to act.
The feedback in the room was that one of the most powerful elements of the session was a brief exercise demonstrating that time is actually non-linear, even though people are used to measuring it in a linear way. Participants were surprised at how unreliable their own sense of time was and acknowledged that effective prioritization is a more realistic solution to the challenge of time than one originally thinks.
Let's play from our strengths.
Take a moment to think about your personal communication super powers. What are your strengths, and what makes you unique compared with your business partners or even the other communication professionals who you work with?
Are you a super connector who can identify the key people who need to meet and collaborate to get a key project done? Is your enhanced superpower being able to smooth the way between their differences and help them see common areas where they can connect and help them focus on where they can individually add value to get the desired business outcomes?
The more you can clearly articulate what you bring to the table, the better you can let others know how we as communication professionals add value to the business. Sometimes, just being able to reach the goal is proof enough of your skills.
No, you don’t need to wear your underpants on the outside, but collectively we do need to go forth and amplify. We must be proud and vocal about where we uniquely can add value. Your clients will then certainty know who they’re going to call when trouble comes knocking.
Download your free “SUPERPOWERS” ringtone to uplift you and make you invincible for every call.
We challenge you to proudly share your communication professional superpowers with the world! Tweet your superhero pic using hashtag #IABC22. Feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn:
Mike Klein, Monique Zytnik and Mabongi Dlamini
Mike Klein, Changing the Terms and founder of #WeLeadComms; Monique Zytnik, Global Employee Communication Expert, Open Communication Group; and Mabongi Dlamini, Founding Partner of Plan B Alliance (invisible superhero) presented this session at the IABC World Conference 2022 in New York City.