Are you establishing the context, the goal or vision for what you wish to achieve? One of the most significant mistakes that I see managers, supervisors and would-be leaders make when they are trying to influence or engage others is a failure to expose their intentions. People are not mind readers and they cannot tell what is inside another person’s head unless it is explicitly shared. The practice of communicating intentionality helps to establish a context and a container for understanding what is required or desirable, and why it matters.
To become more effective in engaging others, try the following in your communications with them both at work as well as at home. First: take the time to think through what you want to accomplish and why it matters. Second: think about the orientation and motivations of the person or group you want to engage in going after that accomplishment. Third: write out a statement of intent in three short, positive, directional sentences that answer the Why and the What of your desired outcome(s) that also speak to the interests of that individual or group. Fourth: share your statement of intent and ask for buy-in.
For example, the VP of Sales for a client organization had been trying to enroll the sales force in a change initiative. He had been very explicit about what needed to happen but had never told the sales leaders reporting to him “why” the change mattered and “what” it would do for the organization, for them and for their sales force in the field. With a little coaching, he sat down and created the following:
“I want to talk with you about the major change initiative we have on the agenda for the sales organization. This initiative is designed to help us level the playing field and even get a “leg up” on a significant competitor in our market place. This change process is designed to increase our sales while also improving our value proposition to key customers and customer-segments.”
He then met with his sales leaders and started off the meeting with this statement of INTENT and asked for their buy-in to the process of increasing perceived value with customers and growing sales volume. The resulting meeting was then held using that explicit statement of intent as the guiding context. It was a highly productive session that was then carried out to field sales with great success in implementation and, improved sales numbers.
Are you taking the time, as a leader, to think through and then construct a focused, potent, directional statement of intent for your meetings and interactions? If not, you are missing a powerful and highly effective process. Do not leave your communication as a game of chance. Clearly communicated intentions yield the best results.