Too often I see people confusing executive communication with telling executives what they want to hear. This is especially tricky when you are communicating with executives several levels above you, and the opportunity is infrequent.
You must realize that executives have a lot of people telling them what they want to hear, and most of the time they feel like they are being sold a bill of goods. You don’t want to be included in that category.
You want to be known as someone who is on the team — not someone who is selling from the outside.
When you can show yourself as focused on the results that they need from you — you can free yourself up to be looking at how to help them achieve their goals. What roadblocks do you clear, what systems do you need? You move away from selling or complaining and onto getting alignment and getting it done.
I think of it like this:
If you are only about telling me what is wrong => pain in the rear
If you tell me it’s great, when I know it’s not => full of crap
If you tell me how we will get to success — the good/bad/ugly => on the team
The more quickly you get on the team — the better career opportunities you will see.