When Merrill Lynch & Co. was acquired by Bank of America, Jeff Ransdell, regional managing director, quickly found a "congressman" -- someone well respected and trusted by peers -- to help him deliver the news of what was happening and where the company was headed. Such a person, he says, is critical to keeping employees engaged during tough times and helping solve problems. "As leaders, we always have to understand who those people are in our organization," he says.

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