By John C. Maxwell
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:20:00 03/27/2010
NOTHING motivates an organization like a clear and compelling vision. But it can be tricky to paint a picture of what’s in your mind so that others can see exactly what you’re seeing. As a leader, how do you enable others to glimpse your vision and how do you inspire them to adopt it?
1) Connect relationally
Leaders err when they believe the content of their vision will sweep others up by itself. Don’t focus on the mechanics of your message to the point where you disregard connecting with your team. People buy into the leader before they buy into the leader’s vision. Touch a person’s heart before you appeal to their head and ask for a hand.
2) Simplify the message
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has a place among the great speeches of American history, yet it was barley three minutes in length. As leader, we can learn a lot from Lincoln. When communicating vision, what you say is important, but how you say it determines whether or not the message sticks. Slice and dice your vision until it can be shared in a single sentence. The more concise you make your vision, the more memorable it will be.
3) Embody the vision
People need to see a vision to connect with it, which is why the great communicators harness imagery to amplify the power of their message. Storytelling gets much more mileage than fact-spewing. However, the best representation of a vision occurs when a leader embodies it. People sooner follow what they see than what they hear. When a leader is ablaze with passion, people invariably are attracted to the flame.
4) Prioritize influencers
Leaders treat everyone with respect, but they certainly shouldn’t spend equal time casting vision to each person. To make sure your vision catches on in your organization, prioritize sharing it with key decision-makers. Set up one-on-one meetings. Field questions and respond to concerns. Don’t rush this step. If you convince key personnel to buy-in to your vision, oftentimes they will sell it for you to the rest of the organization. On the contrary, if you cannot gain their support, implementing your vision will be an uphill struggle.
5) Honor the process
Speechmaking has merit, but vision casting happens daily, not just on one occasion. It’s a process rather than an event. To communicate vision effectively requires continual reminders to keep it in the forefront of people’s minds.
Once the vision begins to take shape, every victory is an opportunity to celebrate and reinforce the vision. Also, each defeat must be evaluated and put into perspective lest the setback dishearten people. Unless a leader actively and continually champions a vision, with time it will evaporate.
6) Call to action
Leaders don’t impart vision to make people feel good, but rather to change something. Communicating vision should motivate people to take action by enlisting them in a focused strategy. The goal isn’t simply to get people to agree with a vision, but also to take responsibility for translating it into reality.
Attend I’m Inspired 2 – Real Success Revealed! with Life Mentor Dr. Ramesh Richard, Francis Kong and Anthony and Maricel-Laxa Pangilinan. May 14, 2010, 9am-5pm at the SMX Convention Center. Call Inspire Leadership Consultancy at 687-2614 or 706-4853 and look for Kriselle to avail of special early bird rates and sponsorships.
WHEN US Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf was a colonel stationed in Vietnam, he commanded the 1st Battalion of the 6th Infantry, a unit previously known as the “worst of the sixth” but which he turned around with strong leadership.
After he improved the battalion, it was reassigned to a place Schwarzkopf described as “a horrible, malignant place” called the Batangan Peninsula. It was an area that had been fought over for 30 years, was covered with mines and booby traps, and was the site of numerous weekly casualties.
Schwarzkopf made the best of bad situation. He introduced procedures to greatly reduce casualties, and whenever a soldier was injured by a mine, he flew out to check on the man, evacuated him using his personal chopper, and talked to the other men to boost their morale.
On May 28, 1970, a man was injured by a mine, and Schwarzkopf flew to where he lay. While his helicopter was evacuating the soldier, another man stepped on a mine, severely injuring his leg. The man thrashed around on the ground, screaming and wailing. That’s when everyone realized the first mine hadn’t been a lone booby trap. They were in fact standing in the middle of a minefield.
Schwarzkopf believed the injured man could survive, and even keep his leg—but only if he stopped flailing around. There was only one thing Shwarzkopf could do. He had to go after the man and immobilize him.
In his autobiography, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero,” Schwarzkopf wrote: I started through the minefield, one slow step at a time, staring at the ground, looking for telltale bumps or little prongs sticking up from the dirt. My knees were shaking so hard that each time I took a step, I had to grab my leg and steady it with both hands before I could take another … It seemed like a thousand years before I reached the kid.
The 240-pound Schwarzkopf, who had been a wrestler at West Point, then pinned the wounded man and calmed him down. It saved the man’s life. And eventually with the help of an engineer team, Schwarzkopf was able to get him and the others out of the minefield.
Later that night when Schwarzkopf was at the hospital, three black soldiers stopped in a hallway and said, “Colonel, we saw what you did for the brother out there. We’ll never forget that, and we’ll make sure that all the other brothers in the battalion know what you did.”
Until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to him that the soldier he had saved was black.
The Army had given Schwarzkopf the power to lead. And his knowledge and skill had given him the ability to lead. But his demonstrated character and courage under the most difficult of circumstances had earned him the right to lead.
(Attend John Maxwell’s “Developing The Leader Within You Workshop” on Jan. 27-28, 2009 at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel which will be facilitated by Maxwell-certified trainer Francis Kong. Call Inspire Leadership Consultancy at 687-2614 or 0917-8511115. You can also e-mail us at email@example.com. Visit our website at http://www.inspirephilippines.com to know more about our other workshops