“Yes Rob, the new building even has your loading dock!” she said mockingly. That’s when I knew I was getting somewhere.
Whether you are managing a small project or driving a 5-year corporate strategy, one of the most important things you need to do as a leader is communicate your desired future condition – your vision. Here are three tips that will help.
1. Be clear and committed
Make sure your vision is clear in your own mind and you are truly committed to the path before trying to communicate it. You need to show passion and an unwavering confidence if you want people to jump on board, and you must stay consistent to ensure that everyone pulls in the same direction. People love to rally behind a compelling vision for the future so don’t be too cavalier about presenting yours.
2. Translate and personalize
People will embrace your vision if they can visualize it, and see themselves as an important part of it. For example, to emphasize an objective to accelerate revenue growth I once used a shipping counter as a tangible symbol. Pointing, I said, “See that counter? In two years, we’ll need a loading dock!” I described this transition in a bunch of different ways depending on the audience, and even sent out pictures of the shipping counter when it was nicely loaded up.
3. Repeat until they mock you for it
Mentioning a vision once in a meeting or email isn’t enough. Become an evangelist. Communicate in different ways, in different context, and in different environments. In my case, it helped that the counter was beside our coffee station. I had frequent opportunities to point at the counter and talk about business growth. It became a touchstone for repeated conversations about what growth would mean for the company – leading to deeper connections with the objective along with some good-natured ribbing when we were planning a move to a new location.
Keep the message simple, put in the work to translate and personalize, then repeat. These are the keys to bringing your vision to life, aligning your team and showing your passion as a leader. It takes work, but once you start getting through, amazing things can happen. Being the butt of the odd jape is just a bonus.
* with this post we welcome Rob Lee to Stratford Managers as VP Marketing