If you have not gotten tired of speaking about your team’s mission, the team does not yet know it. If you have not articulated the current vision over and over again, the team vaguely knows what is important. Most leaders fail to understand how long it takes for organizational direction to be understood and embraced. If you want vision to be embraced, it must be repeated over and over again. Max Depree was right; “Leadership is like the 2nd grade; it means repeating the important things over and over again.”
So how must leaders communicate vision and direction? At least these three ways:
A leader’s life is the leader’s most powerful and important form of communication. A leader who owns and lives the vision, communicates powerfully through behavior. Aristotle articulated that for successful communication, pathos (passion), logos (logic), and ethos (credibility) are all essential. A leader whose life does not match the articulated vision fails the credibility test.
If you are not passionate to live what you are inviting other people to live, the brochure and vision talk are a waste of everyone’s time. For vision to be embraced by the people you are leading, they must see it in your life first.
If a leader only communicates vision and direction from the stage, vision can feel forced and rehearsed. Unless a leader owns the vision off the stage, vision feels inauthentic and borrowed. If the team’s mission is deeply in a leader’s heart, it just comes out. Talk of the team’s focus and direction invades hallway conversations, team meetings, and lunch appointments.
If you need a microphone and slide deck to communicate vision, it has not yet captured your passion. For vision to stick among the people you lead, they must hear it from your mouth when you’re off the stage.
Still, leaders must communicate corporately; they must communicate vision to the group as a whole. And they must do so over and over again. Mission traction is often not realized because people suffer from communication overload, a barrage of a plethora of disconnected messages instead of a singular focus over a sustained period of time.
For people to understand where you are leading them, they must hear it continually. Make the most of the opportunities when you are in front of the team you are leading.