You will often hear me saying, “People follow people, not just great ideas.” If you need to get others on board with your vision, you must tap into your ability to connect, influence, and inspire your audience.
In order to inspire, leaders must be self-confident and optimistic. They must “lead positive.”When you “lead positive,” you offer a compelling vision of the future that taps into the human desire for a higher sense of purpose. By thinking, speaking, and acting out of the positive side of the ledger, your people will feel more hopeful and confident about the future. They will trust and respect who you are, not just your ideas. Then, when you take a stand that requires courage and sacrifice, they will be that much more inclined to walk with you.
The ABT Approach to Getting People On Board
Asset-based thinking means to look at yourself and the world through the eyes of what is working, what strengths are present, and what the potentials are. Conversely, deficit-based thinking means to look at yourself and the world in terms of what is not working, what is lacking, and the gaps between where you are and where you want to be.
Take the time to craft thoughtful, asset-based answers to the following questions the next time you have the job of getting others on board.
1. Who is your audience?
Enrolling others is as much about tapping into the hopes and desires of your audience as it is about getting the direction and strategy right. Therefore, your message must serve the needs of your listeners.
What are their interests and concerns? Their values and beliefs? Their particular frames of mind at this particular moment of time? These need to be your paramount focus.
Your audience needs to know that they matter–to you and to the vision. Knowing that they have something significant to contribute to a vision that they believe in is what will spark their ownership and commitment.
2. How do you feel about your audience?
What you do and how you feel as a leader is contagious. People have a built-in Geiger counter for inauthenticity. Take the time to generate positive thoughts and feelings about your audience. Acknowledge the negative points if they exist, but don’t dwell on them. Keep your focus on the assets of each constituency and how you can work with and honor them.
We come up with all kinds of reasons to cloak our feelings to be more socially acceptable. Maybe we don’t want to show negative emotions for fear of upsetting someone. But I can promise you: Your speech will always reveal what you see, and as a consequence, what you want, what you fear, and what you value.
Make it your job as a leader to be congruent. If you are contemptuous and would rather come off as generous, then shift how you are viewing the person or the circumstance. Change what you see to match what you want to say. Inspirational, high-impact communication is only possible if you focus more of your attention on the assets.
3. What is the meaning behind your message?
What do you want to accomplish and why? How will it serve the values and interests of your audience and of yourself? Why is it important to the bigger picture?
Effective leaders are the ones that can create a vision that leverages the strengths and personal motivations of their team members–and of themselves. Being open about your values and your personal investment in the vision builds trust and commitment. It may make you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable but it will lower the bar for your team to get on board. Revealing your “why” gives others a reason to trust you, to trust the process and to believe in the meaning and importance of your message.
4. What do you want from your audience?
Always be sure you have a clear call to action—even if the action is a change of heart or shift in attitude rather than an actual step to be taken. Providing a clear call to action gives your listeners something to do, to invest in and to own.
What do you want your audience to feel? Uplifted? Enthusiastic? Respected? Relieved? In addition to a call to action, you must also have a clear invitation to feel. Remember: Your own emotion is what will move and touch listeners. They will feel what you feel. And when they are emotionally drawn in to you, it makes your message that much more meaningful and more memorable.