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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Having Difficulty in Communicating? Cut Through the Detail and Focus!

In the many coaching and mentoring sessions that I work on with Vistage members and clients, I frequently find that getting to the root of an issue can be very difficult for many people. 

The issue is that when people in business have a problem to solve or an objective to achieve they generally know far too much about it, the background, the people, the side issues and so on, so that the real issue becomes either cloudy or it disappears entirely in the morass of detail. 

This can lead to reluctance to make a decision simply because the analysis is so complicated that any sensible solution can’t be found. 

It is all a matter of focus.  Objectives, for example, should be expressed in bullet points not several paragraphs of verbiage which make the eyes glaze over. 

I was told a great story by a brilliant Vistage speaker when discussing the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, he said that the President had gone into office with two objectives; to give America its pride back and to take out the Soviets. 

It took two terms and guess what, both of them happened. 

He had allocated specific tasks and duties to people in the administration and made sure that these tasks were delegated absolutely.  This did not imply a lack of interest or abdication of responsibility. 

Rather it implied complete trust in the people and the acceptance by then of total accountability for the success or failure of their activities. 

So what is different in a business?  Why should this method not be just as successful? 

Nine times out of ten it all comes down to a lack of focus.  All great leaders know precisely what they are going to achieve and the drive is absolutely towards that goal with no variations allowed. 

We have lost perhaps the greatest leader of the last few centuries in Nelson Mandela and it is worth examining that what he intended (not wanted, not wished for, not hoped for, but intended) to achieve was a true rainbow democracy with domination by neither black nor white. 

Nelson Mandela had focus, like all great leaders, and we can only hope that subsequent leadership of his country will carry that same torch in the future.  It would be the best way to honour the legacy of a great man. 

It is a wonderful metaphor for business.  Make sure that, if you are running a business, that for example the vision is lucidly expressed with complete clarity and in as short a sentence as possible. 

Transmit that vision constantly and consistently to everyone in the business so that they all know precisely where the business is going and what is expected of them. 

Cut through all the supporting but irrelevant “stuff” which gets in the way of clarity and tell the people how it is in as few words as you can muster.  It is not easy to chop words out of a statement but it must be done. 

Mark Twain said: 

 “I would have written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time”. 

Take time out to express yourself with clarity and focus and watch how positively the people will react.
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