Effective Leaders Ask 3 Questions to Get Results

“Vision without action is just a daydream. Action without vision creates chaos. But leaders who connect vision to the right actions can change the world.” Adapted from a Japanese proverb.

Part 2 of When You Speak, Do Employees Listen and Take Action? 

Elizabeth and her team knew that if they were to create the organizational changes their customers demanded, they needed to connect with employees on all three levels by asking these questions:

  1. What do we want people to understand? This is the intellectual level of leadership communication, the plan to ensure employees understand what needs to happen, why it needs to happen, what is expected of them—and when.
  2. What do we want people to feel? This is the emotional level, the experiences that inspire people to make a personal contribution.
  3. What do we want people to do? This is the practical level to disrupt status quo and ensure that the right systems and processes are in place so people can take action to achieve the results you want.

The team decided to launch their change initiative at an all-employee meeting. When Elizabeth kicked off the meeting, she didn’t put up any charts or figures. She just went to the front of the room, smiled, and thanked everyone for coming.

“How many of you have heard that our customers are not happy with our products and services?” Some people nodded, some shifted in their chairs, and others just looked surprised. “Well, it’s true. Listen.”

A woman and two men joined her in the front of the room. Each represented one of the company’s three most important customers.

One of the men stepped up to the microphone. “Hello. I’m sorry to say it, but I’m here to tell you that Obitron really sucks.”*

The woman stepped up to the microphone next and said, “Not only are you no longer our first choice, you’re not even our second or third.”

And the third man stood up and said, “What’s going on with you guys these days? You used to be the best show in town.”

People sat straight up in their chairs and listened. When the customers were through describing their perspectives, Elizabeth and her leaders broke everyone into groups so that they could begin to define next steps. After the meeting, employees not only understood on a macro level what needed to happen, each committed to making a personal contribution.

The meeting was just the beginning. Elizabeth and her team prepared an entire series of information and events to unleash the collective power within their department. Working with all employees, they identified the details, the timing, and how they would measure–and celebrate–success. Because everyone understood how she or he could personally make a difference, the changes happened more quickly in Elizabeth’s department than anywhere else in the organization.

Change is a process—not an event. Leaders who know how to connect on all levels of communication are the leaders who create and maintain successful change initiatives.

If you are interested, please contact me for a copy of C3—The Three Levels of Leadership Communication™ model.

Also, don’t forget to download your free eBook (see side bar):  Accelerate Organizational Change:  5 Tips to transform employee disinterest, doubt, and fear into buy-in, engagement, and action.

*Obitron is a fictitious company. Any resemblance to an actual business is purely coincidental.

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