Last week, I wrote about the importance of communicating purpose on a daily basis. The goal of which is to win the hearts and minds of all employees. The first step to achieving this outcome is to treat others with respect. By treating others with genuine respect, you, as the leader, create a relationship with people where they are more likely to listen carefully and sympathetically to your message. But the key is to realize that treating people with respect needs to happens before you start speaking not just when you start speaking.
Second, it is important to keep your messages short and concise so they can be cascaded. Corruption of your message is a given as it cascades into the organization. Remember: simplicity of the message + action + alignment = clarity. So, what is the action that the follower is suppose to take upon hearing and understanding your message?
Third. be self-confident and yet humble. John Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead in their book, Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea From Getting Shot Down, Harvard Business Review Press, 2010, remind us not to try to wing it, even if you know all the facts thoroughly, even if the idea seems bulletproof, and even if you expect a friendly audience. Instead, constantly monitor the people whose hearts and minds you need: the broad audience, not the few who may attack your message.
Fourth, to win peoples’ hearts and minds, constantly ask yourself this question: What can I teach here today? The key is to remember that purpose is best learned through stories. Therefore, choose stories which teach.
If you want to be a better leader this fall, then now is the time tell more and new stories. It is time to weave more people into the stories we tell, and it is time we build or rebuild a sense of pride, progress and perspective through the stories we tell.
In short, my challenge to you this week is a simple: What are the new and old stories you can tell that will illustrate the purpose of your company’s work?