Have you ever been in a conversation and someone questions your idea or strategy making you get just a little frustrated and annoyed? Yeah, me neither.
Recently this happened to me and I found myself getting a little short/snippy with my team and was not receptive to the suggestions and feedback they were providing. Fortunately, we’ve built enough trust as a leadership team that they came to me afterwards and had a courageous conversation, bringing up how they felt dismissed and a little disrespected…which led to an amazing conversation together and some hard self-interrogation on my own.
I learned some really interesting things about myself when reflecting upon this situation.
When I’m working on a new idea/concept on my own, I get a crystal clear vision of what the picture is and what components I think should make it up. If it were a puzzle, I determine the image and how all the individual pieces should be combined to make the whole. Then when someone else suggests adding/changing a piece that obviously (to me) doesn’t fit within the puzzle (I’ve created in my head), I get annoyed…real annoyed.
But what this really means is that either I have failed in communicating the interconnectedness of the pieces or more likely, the overall bigger picture clearly enough…or they may see a way to rearrange the pieces in a different (maybe better) way, and I need to remain receptive to their ideas–not to mention the impact on their engagement.
At the end of the day, as a leader, I’ve never communicated my vision well or often enough. I’m thinking about these things all the time…in the shower, on the treadmill, in the car, lying in bed wide awake at 3am…all…the…time.
My leadership team is absolutely amazing, and they are also thinking about how to make the business better, but they are focused on how to serve our clients better; how to make sure our team is doing fulfilling and productive work. They are making sure the car stays on the road and doesn’t slam into a tree or the occasional deer standing in the road.
It is my job to communicate consistently and constantly where we are going, why we are going there, and what it will look like when we get there, while working together as a team to determine what it will take to get there. The company will need much different resources if we are driving to a race track as opposed to off-road mudding. Both need a vehicle, but which type, much different…and to complicate things even more, the vehicle that gets us to there is not necessarily the one we will need when we arrive.
I find it’s really hard to maintain the proper balance between a democracy and dictatorship of vision. How much input to get from the team and when, especially since so much of blazing new paths is based off of strategic hunches and intuition…that then is backed with data and testing. But one thing I’ve learned during this process is that it’s always better to keep firm principles loosely held. To have conviction that this is the right path forward until new information may prove a different path or detour is called for. And to communicate where and why over and over and over, constantly refining the message to shorter and shorter highly concentrated sound bites.
How do you react when someone challenges your vision? Why do you think that reaction is evoked?
What critical parts of your vision may only be super clear to you that needs to be reinforced again and again?