Status quo requires no leadership.
That has been a mantra of mine for a long time. It encapsulates an important point about the role of leaders – leaders are in the change business.
After all, if everything in your organization was perfect, there would be no need for leaders because there would be no new desired destination – you (or the organization) would have already arrived!
This means leaders must be students of change – how to create it, how to cultivate it, how to communicate it and how to champion it.
Change is defined by one critical component – the destination you are changing towards. This destination is often called the vision.
Let’s be a bit more specific and call it a vision of a desired future.
This article discusses creating and communicating that vision of a desired future.
To start, you must understand that simply having a vision isn’t enough. You must create a compelling vision. To be compelling, your vision must be:
- Positive – something others see as desired.
- Personal – something that will benefit others personally or directly (not just abstractly or “it seems like a good idea”).
- Possible – a destination people can see themselves reaching.
- Visual – something people can see.
- Vivid – crystal clear; the clearer the picture of the future, the better.
Now that you’ve created a compelling vision of a desired future, you need to communicate that vision. There several factors that will help you successfully communicate your vision for change.
Remember that the most effective communication is other focused.
When people own the vision it is more compelling. People are always excited about a change that they conceived and created. So, rather than creating a vision of a desired future for people let them co-create it. Yes, it might not look exactly as you intended, and, yes, it might take a little more time. However, while both of those things are true, it’s also true that you will achieve more change faster. Better to go a bit slower at the beginning and accelerate later, don’t you think?
The easiest way to communicate benefits is to ask them. Once the vision is created, ask questions like:
- How will this change benefit you?
- What about this vision excites you?
- How will achieving this vision make your life easier, or better?
You may see benefits they don’t see, and you can certainly suggest those. And, your suggestions will be more powerful and accepted if they come after you ask them for their thoughts!
People don’t argue with their own data. Read that sentence again. These last two points work because people don’t argue with their own data. Stop thinking that communication is only about you talking. Stop trying to communicate with the perfect PowerPoint slides. Stop assuming everyone reads every word of every email you send. Start engaging people in a conversation about a desired future state!
Once you have these factors in your favor it is infinitely easier to communicate a vision – because it is now their vision. Now your task is to help clarify and refine it – and get more excited about it. Here are a couple ways to do that:
Remove barriers – now and in the future. As a leader, through your actions, you can be the person who helps them see the vision is reachable, or possible. Your role is to encourage and help people see the future vision through successful change.
Maintain the conversation. That is right – you have to keep having the change conversation. Your work in communicating change doesn’t end, at least not until you reach the vision. Then it starts over towards a new destination. Keep people thinking about and talking about not just the change but that beautiful desired destination.
There is more of course.
Nothing as complex as change or communicating change can be described or summarized in 700 words.
However, don’t be fooled by the brevity either – using these ideas will make a difference in how successful you will be in creating real change.
You don’t want the status quo, so it is time to lead.