Friday, May 21, 2010


From GIANT Impact comes "Communicating Vision" by John C. Maxwell. I have posted some of my thoughts in regard to coaching in purple italics.

Nothing motivates an organization like a clear and compelling vision. But it can be tricky to paint a picture of what's in your mind so that others can see exactly what you're seeing. As a leader, how do you enable others to glimpse your vision and how do you inspire them to adopt it?

1) Connect relationally
Leaders err when they believe the content of their vision will sweep others up by itself. Don't focus on the mechanics of your message to the point where you disregard connecting with your team. People buy into the leader before they buy into the leader's vision. Touch a person's heart before you appeal to their head and ask for a hand.
Quite simply, it's about people. It's the quote that "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." As coaches, we must let our student-athletes know that they are much more than just a basketball player and that we care about them not just today but forever.

2) Simplify the message
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address has a place among the great speeches of American history, yet it was barley three minutes in length. As leader, we can learn a lot from Lincoln. When communicating vision, what you say is important, but how you say it determines whether or not the message sticks. Slice and dice your vision until it can be shared in a single sentence. The more concise you make your vision, the more memorable it will be.
For coaches, we've all been told that so many times, "less is more." But how many of us truly subscribe to this theory and try to incorporate it into are teaching methods. It's just as true in painting our mission for our team. Our we single-minded in what we trying to get them to achieve or all we all over the place with different thoughts?

3) Embody the vision
People need to see a vision to connect with it, which is why the great communicators harness imagery to amplify the power of their message. Storytelling gets much more mileage than fact-spewing. However, the best representation of a vision occurs when a leader embodies it. People sooner follow what they see than what they hear. When a leader is ablaze with passion, people invariably are attracted to the flame.
At LSU, we are big believers in visual teaching and visual motivation. It is not just enough to say it -- they need to see it. Video has been a big part of what we do. But beyond video, it is how we "frame" our message. To through to our team we need to be about a lot more than a page of bullet points.

4) Prioritize Influencers
Leaders treat everyone with respect, but they certainly shouldn't spend equal time casting vision to each person. To make sure your vision catches on in your organization, prioritize sharing it with key decision-makers. Set up one-on-one meetings. Field questions and respond to concerns. Don't rush this step. If you convince key personnel to buy-in to your vision, oftentimes they will sell it for you to the rest of the organization. On the contrary, if you cannot gain their support, implementing your vision will be an uphill struggle.
An important part of coaching is recognizing who your leaders will be -- as well as who will be the followers. There will be different types of leaders. Some will lead by example and others will be more vocal and active in their leadership roles. They key is to make sure you take the time to lead them so they are sharing the message you need to be shared.

5) Honor the Process
Speechmaking has merit, but vision casting happens daily, not just on one occasion. It's a process rather than an event. To communicate vision effectively requires continual reminders to keep it in the forefront of people's minds.

Once the vision begins to take shape, every victory is an opportunity to celebrate and reinforce the vision. Also, each defeat must be evaluated and put into perspective lest the setback dishearten people. Unless a leader actively and continually champions a vision, with time it will evaporate.
This was an important lesson we learned from Nick Saban. We focused greatly on the process which means that every minute of every day was about improving. We stayed away from result-oriented goals and worked with our team to understand that working on the process daily is what makes us reach our potential.

6) Call to Action
Leaders don't impart vision to make people feel good, but rather to change something. Communicating vision should motivate people to take action by enlisting them in a focused strategy. The goal isn't simply to get people to agree with a vision, but also to take responsibility for translating it into reality.
For us, this means being organized in our practice to make sure that we are giving them the best possibility to exercise the process. It also means that we need to be working as well and not just barking out commands.