Training Badge
Submitted by kima on


I'm looking for book recommendations on the topic of how to communicate with executives.  It's that performance review and development planning time of the year for us and I have a couple of people who need help in this area, specifically things like how to write executive summaries, email, and presentations.  

We've brainstormed some other ideas, like learning more about the DISC model, but it would be great to have some reading recommendations as well.  

Have any of you read anything like that?



Jackson's picture


All you need is in the podcasts for real examples.  Books are generalizations unfortunately.

What I understand about execs is they communicate efficiently and they know their field well.
Executives have CEO disease,      meaning you have a short period of time to catch and keep their attention, so don't read a book practice being brief in all aspects.

If memory serves me right, most executives are high Ds so focus on that DISC podcast.  Mark says he is also a high I, he's in front of people a lot and has thousands of people listen to podcasts he stars in so that could be natural for him or learned as a result of improving his career.  My point is that execs don't all have high I so no need to spend too much time on that.

They are goal driven and when you communicate with them use what Mark mentioned BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) as this will support the aforementioned brevity and keep them focused.  Interestingly the book men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus suggests that men tend to start with the ending and women start from the beginning of a story.  Point being the fact that men mostly fill the executive positions that may be why this method is effective more often.
They hear what you're saying even when they don't look like it so don't be turned off by their body language because they are usually doing more than one thing at a time.

They prioritize well so communicate in their order of priority to keep their attention on you and the topic.

If they increasingly cut you off while you're talking, walk away or their multitasking increases that is a red flag that they are about to eject from the communication.  If they talk less and give the illusion they are actively listening that is also a red flag, most execs expect you to listen.

You can cut them off a couple times when they are talking but that is it, they will think they have a need to "fix" things and if you give the impression otherwise then they eject because there isn't anything to "fix".

When you honestly agree with them be clear that you agree both in statement and body language, this provides them immediate feedback that what they are investing in is worth it and working (or "fixing").
If you disagree keep it to yourself unless it is a deal breaker with a deliverable.  They don't care if you disagree they care that it gets done the best way possible, so if you NEED to disagree say it directly and immediately follow with why and leave out feelings or too much detail.
Let them know you understand the "big picture" and immediately tie that in to concrete results

Most of all be brief, in email, conversation and keep personal conversation to a minimum, if you do begin discussing personal items still be brief and direct.

Leave emotions out of the conversations as they consequently think you have the potential to be emotional and that is a waste of time.

They usually are the type of people to work hard and play hard.  They don't tend to have work life balance.  My generalization is they do most things to an extreme, drinking alcohol, sports, clothes, cars and when something happens to them emotionally that rattles them enough they change..but only a little because by the time something changes emotionally they have aged enough that they blame the change on the age itself and deny themselves the emotional significance.  They tend to have higher medical bills, more divorces, more problems with family because of money or not being involved but don't find God until they are REALLY close to death.  

Instead of a book, do a study.  Most of the books that best describe how to communicate with leaders are excerpts from psychology books or written by the leaders themselves.  John Wooden is one of the few exceptions.  He had a hero complex but that worked well because had character.  Hope that helps.