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OTHER ITA SITES:
Leadership - Communicating The Vision
It is perilous to assume that just because you hold a clear vision, everyone around you understands it as clearly. The truth is that there is often a big gap in what you think the vision is and what the people you lead think.
Communication is not complete merely because something has been expressed. It’s vital to know how well the vision has been understood. What people have heard may not be what you had tried to say. Just because you are in charge, people will listen to you but the test is – do they ‘get’ you? Everyone perceives things according to their own attitudes and limitations. If you are a perceptive leader, you will recognize this difference and take steps to ensure your communication of vision is clear.
Successful communication begins with clear and easy to understand vision statements. Never assume that what you said is what people have heard. Always make people repeat what they have heard so you can make sure that they have heard and understood correctly. And don’t just communicate once – repetition is the key! This will make you avoid a typical leadership pitfall which is the large gap between what you think you said and what your team thinks they heard.
In a situation where the vision is unclear, people will resort to acting in accordance with whatever seems best to them. Once I was attending a brand meeting in a mid-sized organization. The Vice President’s speech alarmed me because in expressing his opinion on some branding issue he referred to the vision and how his strategy would align with the company’s vision. A while earlier, the CEO had articulated his vision and the two seemed to be poles apart. The fault is not just of the junior leader, in this case the Vice President. The point is that instead of assuming that you have communicated your vision clearly you must ascertain from the people responsible for its implementation whether they have understood it correctly.
You can test the vision alignment within your organization simply by conducting this simple exercise. Ask everyone to write a short paragraph explaining the vision on a small piece of paper without signing their name. If people know the process is anonymous, they will stop worrying about whether they are getting it right or wrong and actually concentrate on articulating the vision as they have understood it. Collect all the papers and read through each and every one of them.
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