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As a leader, it is critically important that you have vision. You must know your direction and your destination so you can effectively lead your employees. It is also vital that you are able to communicate that vision. Having a vision and not communicating it is like having oil on your property, but not putting in an oil well to get it out of the ground. It’s there, but it does you no good and makes you no money until you take action. It is the same with communicating your vision. It may be there in your mind, but it does you no good and makes you no money unless you take action. You must get your vision out and put it before the people who will work with you achieve your dream.
So, let’s talk about HOW TO COMMUNICATE YOUR VISION.
If you can communicate, you can win. The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.
There are several components to good communication, and you need to become a master of these. I cannot tell you how many times I hear of a business failure or a relationship loss and the first explanation someone gives is, “He just wasn’t a good communicator.” Don’t let that be you.
I want to give you four communication keys. Write them down. Make yourself a checklist. When you are communicating and you believe you have covered all these areas, do it again. Over communicating is rarely a problem!
First, you must truly believe that communicating the vision is important. If you don’t believe it, you will never do it. If you don’t do it, you will not have the support of the people around you for your vision because they will not know. It is vital to communicate your vision and it is critical to communicate it often. How many times in the past 30 years have you heard Nike’s “Just do it” slogan? That’s how long they have been communicating that idea, and we get it.
What about “Think outside the bun”? Taco Bell has used that for 19 years. Repeated communication makes an idea become part of a culture. If you want your employees to grasp your vision and throw themselves into making it happen, then you must believe that repeatedly communicating that vision to them is important.
Secondly, you must communicate so people can understand. Here are the rules:
- Be clear.
- Be concise.
- Be correct.
Be clear – say exactly what you mean and don’t leave it open to interpretation. Many times, people translate words differently, or they hear what they want to hear. You should repeat the critical message and perhaps provide a way for people to have their questions answered. Often it is helpful to put the message in a written format—an e-mail, a letter, or a handout. Do what is necessary to communicate clearly.
Be concise – The best ad slogans are short one-liners, because people remember them. Do you know the name Edward Everett? He was one of the most popular orators back in the mid 1800’s and a guest speaker at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He spoke for two hours that day. Then he was followed by Abraham Lincoln who spoke for two minutes and delivered what we now know as the famous Gettysburg Address. It is interesting to note that nothing from the two hour speech survived, yet Lincoln’s short Gettysburg Address became one of the most memorable speeches in U.S. history.
Be correct – please be correct. Do your homework. Do your research. When you communicate, be prepared and be accurate.
The third component of importance in communication is HOW you deliver your message. You must convey optimism, hope and inspiration. You are the one responsible for sharing the vision. If you offer an optimistic outlook with hope for the future, and if you can inspire people to catch your dream, you have done well.
And finally, you must communicate publicly. Public speaking is listed as the number one fear of humans! Jay Leno says, “I guess we’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.” No matter, the vision must be communicated and it must be communicated by you. You cannot speak by proxy.
Let me tell you this: people want to hear from you. They want to know that you have a vision and that you believe in it. So, when you have a vision burning within you, just talk about it! Your own passion and dedication to that vision will show, and people will know they are following a leader with a purpose.
So leaders, hold your vision. Let it empower you and keep you focused. Then communicate that vision to your people and voice it clearly and publicly, with hope and optimism.
American businessman Joel Barker said it well:
Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.