26 Feb 2016

Take your people on the journey

I read an article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) about leading people into the future by connecting deeply with them in the present. I love this particular quote because it perfectly captures the topic of this blog – here it is:

The only visions that take hold are shared visions—and you will create them only when you listen very, very closely to others, appreciate their hopes, and attend to their needs. The best leaders are able to bring their people into the future because they engage in the oldest form of research: They observe the human condition.

Harvard Business Review, January 2009 Issue, ‘To Lead, Create a Shared Vision’ by James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner.

A key driver of communications effectiveness is ‘taking your people on the journey’. Once you have clearly articulated your vision, it’s time to take it to the road and socialise it with your key stakeholders. As the HBR writers said above ‘The only visions that take hold are shared visions’, so this is your opportunity to share your vision with your most important stakeholders – your people.

Open the dialogue with your leaders and give them the opportunity to discuss your vision statement. Inspire them and help them see what you see. Entrust them with the responsibility of communicating the vision. Seek feedback from those who are running the daily operations of the business. Ask questions, then listen. Do they understand the vision? Do they believe it is possible? What are the challenges they feel need to be addressed that could hinder the organisation from achieving the vision?

The end result of this process is extremely valuable, however the journey you have taken your people on is of far greater value. You have shown them that they play a critical role in achieving the vision. You have told them that their views are important and will be used to actively shape the organisational vision and strategy going forward.

When working at the Commonwealth Bank I had the privilege to work in the CEO Communications team when Ralph Norris led the Bank. He had the amazing ability to energise the entire organisation towards one simple yet audacious goal – to be number one in customer satisfaction. At the time it seemed impossible yet the organisation was brought along an amazing journey and the Bank achieved this goal of historic proportion. What was the secret to this success? Well many things no doubt played a role in this success, but I personally believe a big part of it was Ralph’s ability to share the vision with employees at all levels of the Bank and to share it with belief and passion.

I have no doubt that you have had similar experiences in an organisation – where a leader captured the heart of employees and engaged them on the journey towards an inspiring vision. Think about what they did that inspired you and look at ways you could improve the way you take your people on your journey.

I hope you found some useful thoughts in this blog. I look forward to sharing more communications insights in future blogs.

Linda Karkafi