Miri Rossitto of Cowe Communications On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During…

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Miri Rossitto of Cowe Communications On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

Foster open and transparent communication: During uncertain times, it’s crucial for leaders to communicate openly and transparently with their teams. This includes sharing relevant information, addressing concerns, and providing regular updates. By fostering a culture of transparency, leaders can build trust and keep everyone aligned and informed. As I said before, I was open and honest about the challenges that we, and our clients, were facing and together we devised strategies, and encouraged team everyone to share their thoughts and idea. This open communication helped maintain morale, provided clarity, and built incredible trust amidst uncertainty.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Miri Rossitto.

Miri Rossitto, founder and CEO of Cowe Communications, is a seasoned business and brand development expert with over 25 years of experience. Known as “The Fixer,” Miri is the silent powerhouse behind many successful entrepreneurs and CEOs, transforming their businesses using her innovative strategies. Her proven track record includes shaping major companies like Westfield Group and Marriott. Miri’s philosophy? Hard work and teamwork make for the best work. “It’s one thing to tell people what to do, but I will show up at your door and help you craft an extraordinary team,” says Miri. “There’s this perception that self-made people do it all alone and that’s wildly untrue. Relentless hard work might not be as sexy a story, but the resulting success speaks for itself.” Miri Rossitto: the dream partner for anyone in business looking to truly succeed.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I have always been drawn to the art of communication and the profound influence of powerful brands. I am convinced that the secret behind thriving businesses is not just great ideas but, above all, great people. In this respect, I have been fortunate throughout my career journey to be mentored and influenced by some of the most proficient individuals in their respective fields. Starting from my humble beginnings as a grocery bagger to advertising classified ads, managing lease returns for BMW, and finally being the VP of Sales and Marketing for a business planning firm, I have witnessed the intricacies of the business world up close. These experiences have enriched my understanding of the good and bad in business. For the past eight years, I have had the privilege of spearheading Cowe Communications, leading an exceptional team committed to delivering remarkable services to our clients. It feels like a fitting culmination of my journey so far.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During my early days in classified ads, I once found myself dealing with a strip club as a prospective client. This was a world alien to me, and I had never stepped inside a strip club. Little did I know about the dimly lit interiors of such places. As I confidently strode past the bouncer and into the strip club, I failed to notice a large velvet throne chair due to the darkness, tripped over it, and ended up flat on my back. To make matters worse, the impact took the wind out of me, causing me to make an undignified grunt. Surprisingly, the performer stopped her routine, stepped off the stage, and came over to help me up. Although the incident was embarrassing, I won the account in the end. But I learned an important lesson — always be aware of my surroundings.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person whom you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Countless individuals have shaped my journey and contributed to my success. But if I had to choose one, it would undoubtedly be my partner, Nicola. For the past six years, she has been an incredible support, gracing our team with her organizational skills, patient demeanor, and people management expertise. Our team owes its consistent performance to Nicola’s guidance and leadership. She is the sunshine to my shadow, her spirit being a beacon of hope and positivity. I am truly grateful for her every single day.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

When Cowe Communications started, our vision was to empower businesses to effectively communicate their value and purpose to the world. We wanted to help companies build strong brands that inspire and connect with their target audiences. Our purpose was to enable organizations to navigate uncertain times by providing them with the tools and strategies to communicate authentically, build trust, and stand out in a crowded marketplace. We believed that by aligning business goals with a higher purpose, companies could drive meaningful impact and achieve long-term success.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

Covid was a particularly challenging period when our industry faced disruption due to so much uncertainty and I faced the task of leading my team through uncertain times. It was essential to keep the team motivated and focused despite the external challenges. I initiated open and transparent communication with my team, sharing the realities of the situation and our plans to adapt. I encouraged everyone to contribute ideas and solutions, fostering a sense of ownership and collaboration. Together, we brainstormed innovative strategies to leverage new technologies and differentiate ourselves in the market. By involving the team in the decision-making process and providing a clear direction, we successfully navigated the challenging times and emerged stronger as a result.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

There were moments when giving up seemed like an option, but I firmly believe that challenges are opportunities for growth. What has motivated me to continue is my unwavering passion for what I do and the impact I can create through my work. I derive inspiration from witnessing the positive transformations that occur when businesses effectively communicate and connect with their audiences. Additionally, the support and dedication of my team and the belief in our shared purpose provide the fuel to overcome challenges and sustain my drive.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

One book that had a profound impact on me as a leader is “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown. It explores the power of vulnerability and courage in leadership. Brown’s insights challenged my perspective on effective leadership and encouraged me to create a culture of psychological safety and authenticity within my organization. The book inspired me to embrace vulnerability as a strength and to foster a culture where individuals feel empowered to take risks, share their ideas, and learn from failures. It transformed the way I lead and influenced my approach to building resilient teams.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

During challenging times, the most critical role of a leader is to provide a sense of stability and direction. Leaders must communicate transparently and honestly about the situation at hand, acknowledging the difficulties while instilling confidence in the team. It is essential to establish a clear vision and strategy, outlining the steps to navigate through uncertainty. Additionally, leaders should prioritize empathy and support, creating a safe space for individuals to express their concerns and ideas. By fostering resilience, empowering the team, and leading by example, a leader can inspire confidence, maintain motivation, and guide the organization toward success.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

To boost morale during uncertain times, leaders can adopt several strategies. Firstly, maintaining open lines of communication is crucial. Regularly updating the team on relevant information, celebrating small wins, and acknowledging their efforts helps keep morale high. Secondly, leaders should foster a culture of collaboration and support, encouraging team members to lean on each other for assistance and motivation. Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth, such as training programs or mentorship, can also inspire the team. Lastly, expressing gratitude and recognizing individuals’ contributions publicly can go a long way in boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

When communicating difficult news, honesty and transparency are paramount. Leaders should choose their words carefully, ensuring clarity while conveying empathy. It’s important to address concerns proactively and provide a platform for team members or customers to ask questions and express their emotions. Active listening and understanding are crucial during such times. Leaders should provide support, reassurance, and, if possible, offer alternative solutions or action plans. Maintaining ongoing communication throughout the process helps build trust and demonstrates a commitment to navigating the challenges together.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

When the future is unpredictable, leaders should adopt a flexible and adaptive approach to planning. It’s essential to focus on the organization’s core purpose and values, using them as guiding principles. Scenario planning can be helpful, considering different potential outcomes and their implications. Leaders should encourage agile decision-making, fostering an environment that embraces experimentation and learning from failures. Regularly reassessing and adjusting plans based on new information or changing circumstances allows organizations to adapt swiftly and make informed decisions.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

One principle that can guide a company through turbulent times is agility. The ability to quickly adapt, innovate, and embrace change is crucial. It involves being open to new ideas, constantly seeking improvement, and making timely decisions. Agility requires a culture that encourages creativity, collaboration, and learning from both successes and failures. By prioritizing agility, companies can respond effectively to challenges, seize opportunities, and position themselves for long-term success.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

Three common mistakes I have observed businesses make during difficult times are:

Neglecting communication: Businesses often fail to communicate openly and transparently with their teams and customers, leading to uncertainty and a lack of trust. This can further erode morale and hinder problem-solving efforts. Effective communication is essential during challenging times to keep everyone informed, aligned, and motivated.

Reacting impulsively: Some businesses make the mistake of reacting impulsively to crises or disruptions without carefully assessing the situation or considering the long-term consequences. Knee-jerk reactions can result in hasty decisions that may not align with the company’s overall strategy. It’s important for leaders to take a step back, gather relevant information, and make informed decisions that prioritize the organization’s long-term goals.

Failing to adapt and innovate: In times of uncertainty, businesses that resist change or cling to outdated practices often struggle to survive. Flexibility and adaptability are key to navigating turbulent times successfully. Companies that fail to embrace innovation, explore new opportunities, or adjust their business models to meet changing market demands may find themselves falling behind their competitors. It’s crucial for leaders to encourage a culture of innovation, foster creativity, and empower employees to contribute ideas and solutions.

To avoid these mistakes, businesses should prioritize effective communication, engage in thoughtful decision-making, and foster a culture of adaptability and innovation. By doing so, they can navigate through difficult times more effectively and position themselves for long-term success.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

Foster open and transparent communication: During uncertain times, it’s crucial for leaders to communicate openly and transparently with their teams. This includes sharing relevant information, addressing concerns, and providing regular updates. By fostering a culture of transparency, leaders can build trust and keep everyone aligned and informed. As I said before, I was open and honest about the challenges that we, and our clients, were facing and together we devised strategies, and encouraged team everyone to share their thoughts and idea. This open communication helped maintain morale, provided clarity, and built incredible trust amidst uncertainty.

Empower and support the team: Effective leaders empower their team members by providing them with the resources, guidance, and support they need to succeed. During turbulent times, it’s important to rally the team together, encourage collaboration, and ensure everyone feels valued and supported. For instance, when facing a major client crisis, I empowered one of my team members to take the lead on resolving the issue. I provided them with guidance, trust, and resources to handle the situation. This not only boosted their confidence but also demonstrated my belief in their abilities and dedication, fostering a sense of ownership and teamwork.

Adaptability and agility: Leaders must be adaptable and agile in their decision-making and strategies. During uncertain times, circumstances can change rapidly, requiring leaders to adjust their plans and approaches. It’s essential to stay attuned to the evolving landscape, be open to new ideas, and encourage a culture of innovation and experimentation. An example of this was when one of our biggest clients laid off some key stakeholders and then looked to our team to handle the communications crisis, internally and externally. Our team really dug in, focused our efforts on aligning all messaging and subsequent actions with the overall mission and vision of the company and thanks to our planning and approach, we helped our client overcome what could have been a catastrophic event.

Lead by example: Leading during uncertain times requires leaders to embody the qualities they want to see in their team members. By leading by example, leaders can inspire and motivate their teams to persevere and overcome challenges. We make it a point at Cowe Communications to practice what we preach. I especially make it a point to demonstrate resilience and I rely on Nicola for the optimism. When things go wrong, we maintain a positive attitude, and acknowledge the challenges, but we try to consistently emphasize our ability and determination to get things right again. This creates a sense of unity and determination within our team, inspiring us to always keep pushing forward.

Maintain a long-term perspective: In turbulent times, it’s easy to get caught up in short-term survival and lose sight of the long-term vision. Effective leaders remain focused on the bigger picture and steer their teams toward strategic goals. By maintaining a long-term perspective, leaders can help their organizations navigate through the storm with purpose and resilience. There is hardly a day when I don’t say to a client, “Let’s figure out whereabouts you think you are headed and then let’s reverse engineer a path to get there.” Oftentimes we just need a general direction and then we can map out long-term and short-term goals. But unless there is some kind of end-game in mind, then there’s really no way to quantify success, and that is key to everything!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the water slide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” — Tina Fey

I often view myself as that kid, wearing an extremely ill-fitted bathing suit, holding up the line of angry, antsy kids while I stare down the slide wondering if I ran away right now would anyone notice. I find myself overthinking everything and I am extremely lucky to have the world’s greatest team to support me and encourage me to go down the chute. And in the end, that’s the secret — good people who want to do good work to make good things happen. That’s the magic!!

How can our readers further follow your work?

To follow my work and stay updated, readers can visit the Cowe Communications website (www.cowe.com) and subscribe to our newsletter for insights and industry updates. They can also connect with me on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/rossitto) to stay connected and engage in conversations about all things business and branding.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Miri Rossitto of Cowe Communications On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.