In our last blog, we talked about how what transformational leaders see gives them a vision that creates real change, in people and in industries. In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at how those leaders communicate their vision in a way that turns “my dream” into “our work.”
When we have a vision we struggle to communicate, it feels very lonely. Our vision may be crystal clear to us, yet that doesn’t mean we will be able to ‘make’ people understand or connect with that vision. When we are not able to take that step, the vision remains “mine” rather than becoming “ours”. This is why the most transformational leaders have contagious visions.
The Power of Contagious Vision
Vision is at its most transformational when it is contagious. When the goal is so clear and so exciting that everyone on the team has embraced it as their own.
When people have something outside themselves to aspire to and work toward that aligns with what is important to them, especially when that goal is bigger than they will achieve on their own, the focus remains on what we will accomplish together, rather than what “I” may “get” for “me.”
Transformational leaders know how to communicate their vision in a way that grabs hold of people, draws them in, and makes them a part of a greater whole. They understand that sharing vision may mean expanding or shifting aspects of that vision, and they are not afraid to do so.
So, what do transformational leaders say to create this connection that attracts people to come alongside them and support their dream?
Transformational Leaders Speak Courageously
No matter what we say, delivery matters. Tone of voice, and the energy in that tone are at least as important as the content of our message. In many cases, tone and energy are even more important.
When delivering a vision to potential partners or supporters, speak with authority and excitement. Show them why the vision is important and dynamic, don’t just tell them. This isn’t about volume. This is about speaking with passion about something that matters deeply to us in a way that invites connection, rather than pushing people away.
“Enthusiasm glows, radiates, permeates and immediately captures everyone’s interest.” — Paul Meyer, businessman and inspirational leader
Transformational leaders do not just assume people will be as excited about a plan or project as they are. They connect by sharing their own passion in a way that speaks deeply to others and encourages them to lean in and listen more.
With that in mind, here are two questions which will be helpful when planning to communicate a vision:
- What is it about this vision that will excite the person or group I’m speaking with?
- What aspect of what I’m so excited about will most likely connect with that audience?
These two questions open up the vision by making it less about what we want and more about what it will do in and for the people to whom we’re speaking.
Transformational Leaders Speak Clearly
There is really no substitute for clear communication. When we communicate in a way that makes our message not only easy to retain but also easy for our audience to understand and repeat, they are much more likely to listen.
“Great communication begins with connection… We all long for acceptance and significance.” — Oprah Winfrey
This means taking a clear stand on certain issues and communicating that position simply. That takes work. It’s hard, much harder, in fact, to communicate a complex idea simply than it is to share it with all the confusing and conflicting parts and pieces.
Transformational Leaders Speak Up
To become a transformational leader requires a person to speak up, even when they would rather be quiet and ‘lead by example’. There will be times when, if we want people to shift their thinking and actions, we will need to plant a flag, draw a line, and speak our minds.
“The moment we fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us… the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Those who are most effective in speaking up keep a few key factors in mind. We are more effective when we offer empathy and ideas, suggestions, rather than critiques or demands.
We are also more effective as transformational leaders when we dare to speak to those who have the power, influence or resources to bring about the change we seek. That’s often tough, because speaking our truth to power is often intimidating, and sometimes discouraging.
When I feel this way, I’m encouraged when I consider that everything that’s ever been done to bring about transformation, either personally or corporately, has begun with someone challenging the status quo with a clear, positive vision.
And that’s the final piece of the puzzle. A truly contagious vision offers a positive perspective on what may be, not just a list of reasons why status quo is “not okay.” It gives us something to strive for, to aspire to … a light to bring into ourselves and share with others.
There are a lot of ways to communicate this… I’d like to share a trailer promoting a movie about a man who understood the relational aspect and the connective power of a simple vision perhaps better than anyone in recent decades.
He was never a billionaire or an A-lister. Recently, he was described as, “A leader with an inauspicious beginning who was always trying to get a message across…” And, I’m betting he’s someone who makes you smile.
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