the smartest way to ensure your leadership message sticks

The Smartest Way to Ensure Your Leadership Message Sticks

Taking your management team out of the field for a leadership offsite or kick-off meeting can be an incredible way to provide clarity around your leadership message, to get everyone focused on what matters most, and to encourage the sharing of best practices.

AND, let’s face it. These meetings are expensive. By the time you add in the time off the job, travel, conference space, AV, and break-time cookies, you’re right to question ROI.

How do you ensure your leadership message sticks? How do you ensure your team is taking your message back to actually DO something?

The Easiest Trap to Fall Into When Sharing Your Leadership Message

Mary’s Story

Mary had brought her managers together to discuss their 2019 priorities along with a bit of Winning Well management training. She kicked off the meeting with a highly-motivating and inspirational message.

She clearly articulated the MIT (Most Important Thing) strategic priorities they had aligned on during their executive session; worked hard to explain the “why” behind what matters most; and, most importantly, translated the priorities into what that meant the managers needed to DO differently.

I was applauding on the inside.

But as I looked around the room, I noticed that not a single person had taken notes. They were all just smiling back at her politely.

I had a hunch that no one had truly picked up what she was putting down.

So as she handed me the mic to begin our training, I did a quick check for understanding. “So who can tell me one of the three most important priorities Mary talked about?”

Crickets.

It wasn’t because they weren’t listening. They were.

It wasn’t because they didn’t care. They do.

But it was taking them a minute to catch up.

What Mary so needed was a recap and a feedback loop. A check for understanding.

So I asked Mary to recap the three priorities, which she did slowly and deliberately.

And then we asked again.

This time every manager was able to share all three priorities. They nailed it.

An hour into the training, I went there again. “What were the three priorities Mary shared?”

They nailed it AGAIN. Progress.

One subtle shift.

Getting the team to share back what they heard. It only took two minutes and made all the difference.

Your Story

It’s so easy to assume your team will get it the first time. After all, they’re smart. They care. And if you do say so yourself (it’s okay, it’s probably true), you’ve crafted a really careful and powerful leadership message.

But the truth is, they’re just catching up.

You’ve been sitting in the planning meetings.  You understand the nuance and the backstory. You wordsmithed the talk points.

But for them, here it comes … all at once … and it’s likely they’re processing #1 and what it means to them, while looking at the escalation blowing up their phone AND thinking about the fact that they only had one slice of lunchmeat for little Bobby’s lunch that morning and wondering if he’s going to notice.

I know it’s frustrating (been there). But try to slow down.  Ask what they heard. Repeat if necessary with a warm smile. Ask again.

And as a close,  ask each person in the room to send you a quick email about what they will be doing differently as a result of your message.

Your turn.

What’s your favorite way of ensuring your leadership message sticks?

You may also enjoy: How to Communicate Remarkably Clear Leadership Expectations

one easy way to encourage your team

One Easy Way to Encourage Your Team

What is one best practice you would recommend to encourage your team?

One Great Way to Encourage Your Team

I took my bike to the cycling shop for a quick repair before heading out for a beautiful Saturday afternoon ride in Breckenridge. Recognizing me from the last time, the manager asked where I’d been riding so far this summer. I shared, “Oh you know Swan Mountain Road toward Keystone? It’s gorgeous, but yikes, that’s quite a hill.”

He laughed. “Karin, it’s okay to call a mountain a mountain. And that ride is definitely a mountain. If you can do that, you can ride just about anything around here.”

I thanked him for the encouragement and headed out on my ride. About 10 minutes in I had a choice…to head straight up the steep incline or take an easier route. “Hmmm…” I thought. “This is a mountain. But I do mountains.” And up I went.

It’s Okay to Call a Mountain a Mountain

When we do keynotes for companies, we always like to talk to a few of the Senior leaders as part of the preparation. Consistently one of the insights they share is, “Our team’s job is so hard! We’re asking them to do a great deal with limited resources, in a rapidly changing environment.” Or, “They’re working so hard, this is one of the toughest times our industry has ever seen.” Or “I’m so proud of this team. What we’ve asked them to do is nearly impossible, and somehow they’re making it happen.”

So then we’ll ask, “Have you told them you know how hard it is?”

Most frequent answer, “Oh, no! I don’t want to discourage them.” Or, “If I admit it’s hard, then they may think it’s okay to not accomplish it.”

And then we’ll inquire: “Is it okay if I let them know you know? Here’s why _______.”

And then from the stage we share, “We talked with ‘John’ in preparing for our time together. And here’s what we learned. Your job is hard! You have to do ___ and ____ without ___ and ___ in the context of _____.”

And a sense of relief falls over the room. There are always big smiles and sometimes applause. Not for us, but because “John” gets it.

Don’t be afraid to call a mountain a mountain.

If your team is facing a steep climb, recognize it. And then remind them of the mountains they’ve scaled before and why you know they’ll be successful.