Volume 10, Number 3
Walinskas is a professional engineer, speaker and freelance writer
in Dallas, Pennsylvania, helping people and businesses that want
to communicate more effectively through The Speaking Connection (www.SpeakingConnection.com;
phone 800-807-0759; firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ever wonder what
makes great leaders? I
mean the type of leaders that people willingly follow based on his
or her vision alone, like so many lemmings diving into the sea.
We’ve recently had an election, and we heard from both
sides of the aisle about their visions for the future of American
and the role that government should play in bringing that future
about. Both presidential candidates predictably moved toward the
center, trying to co-opt the other guy’s positions to lure the
great unwashed, the undecided voter.
Think of a
country as a very large organization of people, each with
different needs, talents, and challenges.
Corporate, as well as government, leaders need to inspire,
captivate imagination, and raise the people to new levels of
personal empowerment so that the overall organization thrives.
People want to follow leaders toward a compelling future,
the vision of the company’s success.
The problem is that this vision is tough to get across to
the troops. Even
worse, many managers in companies downplay the importance of
communicating that vision. As
long as the management knows where we’re going, we’ll get
there, right? No,
wrong! Everyone needs to be singing from the same song sheet.
How do you, as a leader, communicate the corporate vision
so that people willingly follow and perform at their highest
possible levels? Here
are some tips.
This is probably
getting old by now, but people aren’t really lemmings.
The main corporate vision has to be communicated along with
why the change must take
place. Tell them why
the organization wants to dominate certain markets, or why it’s
important to delight customers or maintain a great environment for
do what you tell them in order to stay gainfully employed; but
real empowerment and buy-in comes from them knowing the reasons
for the company’s desire to behave according to the vision.
Repetition is the
father of learning. Watch
the convention speeches and see how the political speechwriters
try to develop a hook phrase that people in the arenas will focus
on. Over and over you’ll hear this phrase repeated.
The corporate vision can’t be told once with the hope
that it will stick, because for 96% of the people, it won’t.
The CEO needs to say it, middle management needs to say it,
and the shop floor foreman needs to hammer it home too.
need to be action oriented, but this article isn’t about how to
craft an effective vision statement, it’s about how to
communicate one. If the vision statement, itself, has action verbs
instead of the verb to-be in it, it motivates people to put it
into practice by being dynamic and memorable.
“We will excel in customer loyalty by demonstrating
outstanding service to the customer in every situation” is
better than, “We will be the best we can be at customer
go even further into shaping employee tasks and designing
responsibilities that support the overall vision.
For instance, a call center in the company with the
aforementioned vision would measure the number of complaints it
sees on a daily basis and target reductions in those numbers over
time. That’s called
walking the talk. It’s
cliché but it’s effective in communicating the importance of
organizational vision is nothing more than educating.
People learn how adhering to the vision affects their
lives. Well folks,
people learn in different ways.
Some love to hear things, they’re called auditory
learners; others known as visual learners must see the proof.
Some learn by reading, others, termed kinesthetic learners,
by doing. So what’s
the right way to educate the company about the vision?
Target as many senses as possible to hit the dominant
learning schemes. Including
an element of the vision into their jobs helps those who learn
mostly by doing. Presenting them with newsletters, emails and displays helps
the visual-dominant person. Stating
the message at all board, departmental, and team meetings, maybe
even handing out audiotapes explaining the company vision, works
on the auditory folks.
People act based
on emotion then later, if they need to, justify their actions with
facts. Every trained
salesperson knows this. Well,
a leader trying to communicate the corporate vision is one
gigantic salesperson. How
can you stimulate mass emotion?
Let’s look at the politicians again, speaking to a
nation. They paint a
portrait of what life will be like if their visions are fulfilled.
Who wouldn’t like to grow up in a world where she knew
her kids were safe from nuclear threat or violence in their
schools? It’s the
leader’s job to paint that portrait of what the lives of the
rank and file will be like when the vision is achieved.
Personal outcomes work the best.
“You’ll earn more, work less hours so you have more
time to spend with your families, and know with certainty that
what you’re doing is helping shape the world in the Information
Age.” If that were
your quote and you really believed it, it would make a powerful
statement about the direction you’re setting for the company.
People like to
feel important. They’d
rather participate in change then be along for the bumpy ride.
we like to feel like we’re in some degree of control.
Often I am asked what method of travel is safer, a plane or
a car. I always
answer a car, even though statistics refute that belief based on
number of accidents per traveler.
My reasoning is simple--I don’t fly the plane but I drive
the car. I have no control in the air, completely at the mercy of the
pilot. In my car, my
ego tells me that if I’m really effective, I might be able to
avoid an accident and still walk away.
I am empowered.
You need the
people in your organization to bring the vision you set about, so
ask them for their help, empower them to do so.
Then provide the resources necessary for them to be
effective and follow your lead.
If the company vision states that all employees will be
world class and at the top of their game, but then management
doesn’t come up with funds for needed training, the vision is
Coming up with an
organizational vision is only half the battle.
Communicating it to the workforce so they respond is the
rest of the game. Touch
the emotions and all the senses, make it action-oriented, give
them reasons, repeat it often, and empower the people to help and
you’ll see the vision take root, take off, and your approval