In this 26th episode of CultivatED Marketer, hosts Brent Bowen and Matt Tidwell, PhD, chat with Mark Schumann, IABC Fellow and renowned executive coach, as he shares his invaluable insights on leadership, communication, and the new challenges faced by leaders in a post-pandemic world.

CultivatED Marketer Ep. 26 — Navigating Leadership and Communication in a Post-Pandemic World


Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World

Our guest for this episode is IABC fellow and Professor in communications and culture at New York University, Mark Schumann. Mark is an executive coach and consultant who has worked with some of the biggest names in the CEO world. We talk with Mark about his experience working with senior leaders at the highest levels in big companies, such as Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher.

We also discuss how the role of leaders has permanently changed due to the pandemic and how they have had to adapt to living and working in different ways. Mark walks through a recent conversation with a CEO that he has worked with before, during, and after COVID, and reflects on how leaders became a source of information about not only the business, but also vaccines, schools, home education, and a myriad of other things that connect our lives.

Mark helps us to understand the importance of acknowledging how our lives have been impacted by this difficult time. He draws attention to the newly formed expectation of connection, and how marketers play a pivotal role.

Empathy in Virtual Meetings and Communication

We explore how the check-in process has changed in the virtual world and how to create a safe space for employees to express themselves. We emphasize the importance of fostering camaraderie and productivity by taking the time to connect with others as human beings.

We also look into the notion of work-life balance and how the open window of the outside world can have an impact on an organization. Mark notes how previously it might have felt as though you were walking a tight rope, but now we are so connected that there isn’t a separation. He says marketers’ skills to intently listen to their people, and put together what is heard, they can create a safe space to have those open conversations.

CEO Communication Strategies

Following the same progression, we examine the changing role of a CEO in terms of expressing opinions on the world and how this can influence the dialogue within organizations. After Brent gives a few examples of how a CEO responds to crisis communication, he asks Mark to explore why it is difficult to find the personality of these individuals. Mark dives into the self-awareness of these leaders, and how through their behavior they can express what is permissible or not throughout the organization.

Mark stresses the importance of how a leader communicates and interacts with people dictates whether those people feel heard, which correlates to their involvement in the organization. He gives examples of how important it is for people to see the CEO in unscripted moments, where the human side of them and their personality can really show. The group discusses some examples of when these unscripted moments can be better or worse for employee connection.

Effective Communication Beyond Technical Tools

We discuss the importance of developing the skills necessary to be an effective communicator. Mark discusses one of the methods he uses with his students to get them examining the tactics driving the messages some of these people or organizations are putting out.

The group explores how curiosity and conviction can help lead to clarity when communicating. They hark back to times when there were fewer tools to distribute an organization’s message, yes the effectiveness of those messages was ultimately the same. Mark emphasizes that clear communication is at the top of the hierarchy, more than distribution, as people will find the messaging no matter what tools were used. He adds that having fewer tools may help improve the effectiveness of communication.

Finally, they examine the important aspect of remaining calm plays for leaders. Mark regales a story of a CEO he was working with, and how the environment he was in changed his personality. He notes how a CEO’s personality and “presence” are also always being judged, yet it is important to remain true to yourself and deliver what people need. The group then contrasts this with the bombastic personalities that are often rewarded in our current society. They draw to the conclusion settling on the importance of authenticity for a leader.



(0:00:00) – Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World

(0:07:56) – Self-Awareness in Leadership Positions

(0:14:40) – Empathy in Virtual Meetings and Communication

(0:20:55) – CEO Communication Strategies

(0:30:54) – Effective Communication Beyond Technical Tools

(0:35:49) – Importance of Calm and Authentic Leadership


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