Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Vision casting”

Communicating with Word Pictures

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”    Matthew 7:24-25  ESV

Communicating well can be difficult for Kingdom leaders.  “What we have here is a failure to communicate” is heard all too frequently.  As a team leader you are often casting vision and futuristic concepts that for you may seem crystal clear, but for your hearers they are a thick fog.  How can you cut through the fog and help those around you see it as clearly as you do?

One key to good communication, especially when dealing with abstract or complex topics is to learn to speak in word pictures.  Taking the complex and ‘putting a handle’ on it so that it is easy to grasp is a learned skill.  Like all skills, you can get good at it and when you do, you will find yourself being quoted because your communication is memorable.

Note how Jesus ended His most famous sermon – the Sermon on the Mount.  In the reference above He closed with a word picture of a person building a house on two different types of foundations.  The key word is “like” which introduces the simile that follows.  Those who hear His words and obey them are ‘like’ a wise man who built on a rock.  ‘Like’ transitions from concept to word picture that makes the abstract more concrete in the minds of His audience.

As you talk about your mission and vision, learn to use word pictures, similes that will help your audience better understand and remember key points and concepts.  Here’s an example that I use to explain the difference between mission and vision for Kingdom leaders.

Mission Statement –  This answers the question, “Why do we exist?”  This is first and foremost in strategic leading.  It’s like a picture frame on the wall of the Kingdom that separates and defines who we are from what others are.  It is our task and our identity.

Vision Statement  –  This is where we want to go in the future – our destination.  It is the picture of the future of our desired future state that we see by faith.  It’s the picture that is placed into the picture frame of our mission.  It is this future vision that we will begin to work towards and bring into reality by His grace and power.

Train yourself to communicate in simple, easy to understand word pictures.  Your influence will grow and your communications will ‘stick.’

Leaders Bring Clarity!

We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.    2 Corinthians 11:6     (NIV  1984)

One of a leader’s primary contributions in the mission is to bring clarity to those they are leading.  The old saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there” is true for many.  Leaders who fail to bring clarity settle for busyness and the assumption that lots of activity must mean that we are accomplishing something.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

As a leader, you have a platform to influence others through what you say and do.  You will be quoted and you are being watched by others as they seek to follow your lead.  Making sure that your quotes are worth repeating and that your example aligns with your mission and values is essential for clarifying direction.  Intentionality and forethought are key.

The enemy is seeking to sow confusion and doubt about the mission direction and outcomes.  He started with Eve, causing her to question God’s clear mandate about not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Today’s pace of life and rapidly changing context also add to a lack of clarity on what we are doing and why.  It’s clear for a moment and then that clarity fades very quickly as we engage in life’s activities.

As the leader, it is your responsibility to insure that there is no doubt as to what the mission is and what the directions / outcomes are for all.  You will need to over-communicate this many times and in many ways, knowing that what is clear for the moment will become unclear as time passes.

The art of this ‘over-communication’ is the ability to say the same thing in many different ways so that it is heard and not dismissed.  If you simply repeat the same thing, your audience will tune you out.  Keeping the main thing the main thing and keeping it in clear focus for those you lead is a challenge!

Leaders bring clarity to the main thing!  Keep the focus tight and clear!  Don’t let mission creep sweep in and divert what was once a sharp, clear focus on your mission, values, and strategic directions.  And just because you said it once, does not mean that you are understood or remembered.

How’s your clarity?  Are you continuing to bring clarity on the main thing to those you lead?

Vision Casting

Our vision tells us where we intend to go–where to aim–and helps us keep our focus. We see this future clearly now, but as we move forward it becomes more real—more clear.

Vision statements must be far enough into the future that there is time for change. They also must be “big” enough to allow for faith and the “touch of God.” If they are too far into the future or too big they tend to be thought of as dreams or wishful thinking instead of action-producing statements that move the passions of those touched by them.

After identifying our time horizon, we begin by describing what we see in the future of our work. It is as if we are taken into the future and are able to gather the entire work together in one location and take a picture of it. We then try to describe the picture that we see in words.

To describe this future picture, we begin by saying,, “By the year 20xx, we see…”  Vision casting is describing this picture so clearly that others can see it with you and also see their part in making this picture become a reality.

One last thought. As we begin another year have you asked and answered the question, “What are you asking God to do in your work this year?” Are you praying specifically? Are you asking in faith? Or is it just another year filled with much activity and people?

I hope that you are asking a BIG GOD for BIG THINGS! Remember, “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2 b).

Casting Vision

Once our desired future state is clear, it is the leader’s job to communicate this vision so that others can ‘see’ it along with them.  Tom Clancy’s book, “Into the Storm: A Study in Command” (page 504) provides a great illustration of vision casting by a leader.  Gen. Freddie Franks was leading the VII Corps in Desert Storm and in the midst of the fog of war it became apparent that the final outcome was not clear.  Gen. Franks provides that needed clarity as described below.

“But I’ve been around tired troops, and these troops were tired…though clearly not down.  They were running on fumes now, but they wanted to finish it.  I could imagine what the troops who had fought all night felt like.

“As I looked at the map, a piece of blue representing the Persian Gulf was just visible at the far eastern map sheet.  It caught my attention.

“Attack east,” I told them.  “Go for the blue on the map.  That is what is bringing the ships to take us home when this is over.  Go for that.  Here!” I said, banging on the map.  Not too military, but I wanted them—as clearly tired as they were—to have something to seize on to propel them forward another twenty-four hours.  As Greg Fontenot was to tell me later, my remark “Go for the blue on the map” got all the way to the battalion commanders, and maybe further.”

How’s your vision?  Is it clear?  Can you communicate it clearly and simply to others?  Where is the “blue on your map?”  Go for the blue on the map!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: