As a leader, you have a super power.
You can see what others cannot. Yet.
It’s partly because you’re distinct in and of yourself. You’re a unique blend of experiences through which you developed particular mastery. That gives you insight that others may not have.
Plus you have a distinct vantage point from which to see. Your current leadership role gives you access to information and issues that others around you may not be privy to. Your sightlines are therefore different. You can see further, broader, deeper. You have a different perspective that enables you to see what lies beyond what exists right now.
This power of sight gives you the opportunity to transform what is now into what you know it could or should be.
But it’s also a dangerous paradox. Because what you see can blind you to whether others see it too. You see it so vividly and with such acuity that it’s evident and painstakingly obvious what must be achieved. You merely have to state it to others, and it will be done.
Or so you may think.
Well, I’m sorry to say it likely won’t be.
And the data prove it. Most notable leadership initiatives fail to be fully realized. Even the most brilliant strategies fail more than 80% of the time.
So if you think you can jump to action, i.e., the “how” to achieve what you see, before conveying the “what” and the “why” to those who can help you achieve it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’re sabotaging your own success.
Until others can see it clearly enough to appreciate its significance, they will not fully do their part in helping you realize it.
And herein lies your duty as a leader.
You have to help them see it. Or they will not respond.
That’s the key difference in your leadership communication. Where others aspire to have people just listen, as a leader you need them to respond – and in the particular ways that will advance your leadership initiatives. Otherwise, nothing changes. The status quo prevails. What you see won’t make any difference because you’ll fail to realize it.
Instead, use your power of sight to illuminate what it is you see.
First though, be clear on what that is yourself. Because if you are not, you’ll only create confusion and uncertainty in them too.
And then start to enlighten others by declaring it powerfully enough to bring it into their awareness. So that what was invisible to them starts to become visible.
As ever though, know to whom you’re speaking, and guage the magnitude of illumination accordingly. They don’t need every detail just yet. Only give them enough for the idea or initiative you see to start to take form, and be recognizable as meaningful enough for them to help you achieve.
Then you can begin to amplify its significance, and unify them in thought and action. And watch the transformation take hold. The results will speak for themselves.
But first they have to see it. It doesn’t happen in a blink. Don’t assume because you’ve said it once, they get it. You may have to say it again and again just to be heard.
And that means the power of your sight has to be matched by the strength of your words.
The renowned American journalist Edward R. Murrow once described Winston Churchill as having “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
But being heard for Churchill wasn’t easy, as evidenced in his words, “Never, never, never give up.”
And thank heavens he didn’t.
Churchill is a prime example of being able to see what others couldn’t, or wouldn’t. He was pretty much a lone dissenting voice within a British Government entirely focused on appeasing Hitler to avoid the war. Denounced for his forewarnings because of his age and his previous military failures, he was sidelined, completely powerless to act to prevent the mounting threats that he could see.
Still he persisted. Time after time, he declared the perils he saw. And finally, he was heard. As history attests, he saw things with great acuity, voiced it, and proved to be the leader the times demanded.
But you don’t have to have Churchill’s command of the English language to illuminate. It’s not about oratory.
It’s about capturing what you see through the words that enable others to see it too. And vocalizing it. When it matters.
Remember this as you go about the course of your day. Recognize what it is you see that others don’t. And if it’s significant, help them see it too.
For with leadership, comes great responsibility.
You need to speak up and be heard to ignite the significant change that you see.