IN THIS ARTICLE:
- Communicating your vision for the organization will be vital in promoting innovation.
- Trust your staff to be successful with the vision.
- Communicate through relationships, being disciplined, focusing on your audience, with sensitivity to the context and purpose driven.
To lead an innovative organization, your employees need to understand your vision. This is the guiding light for all they do.
Your vision is also important for them as they navigate away from the rule book and into innovation territory.
As a leader, make sure you communicate your vision and purpose. Make sure every person you are responsible for knows your vision.
Communication is not easy. If you find it tough, it is worth doing what star athletes do and getting a communication coach on board.
I led an organization some time ago that had a $5 million turnover. When I arrived it was overly bureaucratic.
To get a frontline decision, a colleague would need to pass a request through one, sometimes two managers before it got to me for my signature and approval.
I thought this was ridiculous. It slowed things down and took the decision far away from the person who was best placed to make it.
So I threw out the rule book and introduced a set of values. Our frontline staff were experts at what they did. Why did they need my permission to make decisions?
My new rule was, so long as you can show your decision fulfills the five values I set, I will always back you. It surprised some of them when I backed them completely. Things started changing for the better.
Some managers look at me in horror when I tell them that story. “How could you trust them?” some ask.
I always answer with another question. “If you can’t trust your staff, how can they trust you? And if they don’t trust you, how can you inspire or lead them to greatness?” Trust is a huge component in leading innovation.
Five tips to communicate your vision
When you plan the way you communicate your vision to your staff, you might find it helpful to follow the 5 principles of functional communication.
This is a model I developed to help leaders and teams communicate better, based on my experience as a broadcaster and communicator.
First, make sure you build a relationship with your staff. It all starts here if you want to build trust.
Forming a relationship is more than just walking around the shop floor. It’s a two-way process.
You need to listen to them as much as they listen to you.
Second, make sure your messages are audience centered. Speak their language, not yours.
There’s a tendency for senior managers to lapse into management speak and jargon. That doesn’t wash.
Use the language of your employees – you’ll be amazed at how this improves relationships.
Third, be clear about your purpose. Don’t just send out emails to prove you are a communicator. Only send them out when you’ve got something to say.
Make sure you are clear on the purpose of your message before you send a group email, call a staff meeting or address staff on the shop floor.
Fourth, be context sensitive.
If your vision involves letting staff go, for example, remember this when you outline what you believe is an exciting future.
If you’re describing this to a meeting of employees, they won’t be thinking about exciting vision. They’ll be thinking of their jobs being at risk.
The context can often be more powerful that your message.
Fifth, be disciplined.
Make communication a priority and work hard at perfecting your powers of communication. Do what star athletes do and hire a coach to help you.
Communication is one of the most important skills a leader can possess in today’s world. Treat it seriously and you’ll be amazed at how it helps you create an innovative organization.