Monday, January 13, 2014

Leadership is About Language

By Al Norval

This time of year is always a great time to not only set our strategies for the coming year but to reflect on our organization’s True North. I often find that an organization will do a great job of setting their Mother A3’s for the next year but put much less emphasis on their True North. Problem is that without understanding True North, how can an organization know if the strategies in their Mother A3’s will get them there? Reminds me of the old saying “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there”

What is True North?

It’s your organizations Philosophical and Strategic Objective. It generally represents a timeline of 3 – 5 years into the future.

Now that we have reviewed and refreshed True North, is that all there is to it? Of course not, we need to make True North come to life. We need to use it to inspire a vision of the future that engages people to help the organization achieve True North. To do that leaders need to have dialogue and conversations about True North.

How do you do that in a large organization?

When discussing why people didn’t understand or seem to have any knowledge of True North, I once had a leader say to me “But I sent out our True North in an email”.

Leaders need to talk to people about True North. To do that, leaders need to be very efficient and effective in their communications. A few simple, well spoken words have more power than hours of endless chatter. Leaders need to boil their message down so people can understand it and “Join in”. A clear, concise message using common everyday words that people can understand wins out every time. No Corporate talk, no jargon, no buzzwords.

Leadership is about language. If we want to communicate an inspiring vision about where the organization is going and why it’s important, we need to be conscious of the words we use and the message we send. If we are, we’ll achieve the biggest gain of all, that is engaging the hearts and minds of the people to help us achieve True North.


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