Communication Freak: The Importance of Information, Transparency and Openness

By Anne Marie DeCatsye, CEO

Communication is highly important to me. I like to share what I learn that might be beneficial to your business and to hear from you, our members, about any concerns. Always feel free to contact me at annemarieh.decatsye@carolinahome.com.

In many ways this year, the significance of communication has been driven home to me — from attending meetings on your behalf to sharing why I even hold communication so dearly.

AEI Disney Institute: Leading for Success

For many years, the Disney organization has been famous for customer service. In a day-long seminar, the value of empowering staff to serve members was emphasized.

The Disney folks noted that members are happier and have better experiences when staff receive coaching and feedback, have the authority to make and implement decisions and when the CEO and other leaders ask for staff input about decisions. We agree wholeheartedly at the Association and are always looking at ways to empower staff to better serve members.

I took down this note from the seminar: “The quality of your communication is one of the most basic signals you send about how much you value and respect your employees. High quality information empowers.”

I truly believe this.

Association Executives Institute

At this annual meeting of association executives, I was honored to make a presentation on communication. My peers at local and state associations had noted it as a strength of mine in a national survey of association executives that identified the 15 most successful CEOs in the eyes of the respondents. I was honored to be in the group.

In refining the data through interviews with the CEOs and with the association presidents we serve, consultant Jerry Matthews found that intangible skills such as communication, leadership, trust and building relationships tended to separate the 15 CEOs from others in the survey.

At the institute, 10 of us spoke to our strengths as part of a Power Skills for Success panel. Though it was the last session of the conference, we had a packed house and most attendees stayed through the entire presentation.

As I began my comments, my intro likely caught people by surprise. I shared a serious life event as an adolescent that shaped my views. As an 11-year-old, I was sexually abused by the husband of a couple who knew my family and hired me to babysit their child. When I shared what happened with my parents, I don’t think they were prepared as young parents to deal with it, and it got swept under the rug. Not until my 30s did I deal with the traumatic experience through counseling.

Based on that and on many other experiences, I firmly believe it is better to be open about what is going on and not look away or pretend nothing is happening. I see myself as a communication freak, one who doesn’t hold back much. At the Association and CarolinaMLS, we are intentional about our communication with members, leadership and staff (see sidebar) and are always looking for feedback.

My take on the famous adage of “knowledge is power” is the following:

“Knowledge may be power, but communicating knowledge is empowering.”