One of the constant challenges that I’ve found in leadership is getting people to listen to, grasp and deliver on the vision and strategy that you have for the group.

There have been times when I have become frustrated and annoyed that the message just isn’t getting through and I’ve seen numerous leaders build a chasm between themselves and their people because “they” just don’t get it.

The temptation is to become condescending or just to stop talking to your people.  What’s the point, the message isn’t getting through anyway?

Great leaders understand that it’s not the fault of the people if the message isn’t getting through.  They take responsibility and adapt their communication techniques until they find a way to get their message across.

How can you do that?

Create a partnership mentality.  One of the stumbling blocks when communicating with your people can be an unspoken “us against them” mentality that some managers can create.  The reality is that you only look good as a leader when your people are fully engaged and do brilliant work, so working in partnership is crucial.  Change your vision language from “this is what I want you to do” to “this is what I believe we can do together.”  You’ll notice a difference in buy-in immediately.

A couple of quotes that I’ve found helpful are:

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” John C. Maxwell

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot.  Together I can do great things.”  Mother Teresa.

Do it more often.  One of the traps that I’ve fallen into in the past is thinking that I can deliver a message once and that’s good enough.  I was wrong!

If your message is important enough, then it needs to be reiterated over and over again.  This will have the dual benefit of making sure that people remember it more effectively and understand that you were serious the first time.  Delivering a consistent message repeatedly helps your people to understand that you’re not just following a whim, but this is a vision that you are passionate about delivering.

Say the same thing in different ways.  People receive messages in different ways, so if you were to communicate solely through email (which would be a really bad idea), then only a small percentage would:

  1. Read the email
  2. Understand it

The same could be said if you relied on weekly meetings, PowerPoint presentations, blogs, Twitter, newsletters, one-on-one catch ups or any other single form of communication.  Mixing up your medium will help you to get through to a wider audience and give you some variety in delivery so that you don’t feel that you are saying the same thing over and over again.  Don’t be afraid of being creative with this as it will get your people’s attention, which is exactly what you want.

Tell stories.  Creating a narrative for your group is important as well, as people can relate better and recall stories better than they can a few dots points on a presentation.  Create heroes in your organisation who personify the values that you want to see displayed.  Use recent examples from your team or elsewhere if necessary.  Allow your people to imagine what it would be like if your vision became a reality and make sure that the future you’re aiming for is able to connect emotionally with others.

Responsibility literally means the ability to respond, so instead of getting frustrated with people because they aren’t listening or engaging, take responsibility as a leader for creating a partnership with your team, keep repeating your message,  use different communication methods to get your point across and make sure that you’re constantly telling stories.

What tools have you used to deliver a message to your team?

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