“What we have here is a failure to communicate!”
That line from Cool Hand Luke sums up a common problem. In order to have progress of any kind we must communicate. Since we do not live in a vacuum we cannot run our business or our lives that way. Often, in our experience, when we find an organization that is struggling we almost always discover that poor or non-existent communication is one of the major causes.
An effective leader communicates clearly. However, an outstanding or great leader does more. The outstanding leader does that plus inspires others to want to do the things that are necessary to achieve great outcomes. That leader has a compelling vision and transfers that inspiration to others. Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great”, highlights what he terms Level Five Leadership. He says that a great leader is able to get the right people on the bus. I have a question for you. Are you able to get your team to come with you on your bus?
What does it take to get everyone on your bus? Think about it. In a real bus trip there might be some people that don’t like riding on the bus and want to follow behind in their own cars. Fine you say we will see you at our destination. What usually happens then? The bus gets to the destination and the cars arrive late or not at all. Your job, in the analogy of bus driver, is to get your team, your staff, and your employees to get on the bus and arrive together.
Just as in the bus analogy telling your team where you are going is simply not enough. There is always disagreement such as what route to take. In your company, in your department do you and your people know exactly where you are trying to go? And how should they know? One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to shape and communicate the vision to everyone in the organization.
Here are six key elements to create and communicate a vision. And get your people on the same bus.
1. Keep it simple. Eliminate trite expressions, techno-gobble, or jargon. Example: We are going to become faster than anyone in our industry in responding to and satisfying customer needs.
2. Use metaphors, analogies and examples. Paint verbal pictures so people can picture and visualize where they are going.
3. Use multiple forums. Utilize big and small meetings, memos, articles, as well as formal and informal interactions.
4. Incorporate repetition. Spaced repetition helps people internalize.
5. Lead by example. Behavior must be consistent with the vision since we believe what we see more than what we hear.
6. Give and take. Two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication. Listen and be listened to. By listening, you may find out about a better route, a short cut on your journey.
Your real competitive advantage comes from harnessing the will, commitment and EMOTION of your people. You must look at ways to not only create a compelling VISION but communicate that to your team.