Monday, December 20, 2010

Vagueness Leads to Socks, Ties and Underwear

A Christmas Season ad campaign from a new online retailer, The Art of Shaving admonishes:  
Repeat after us:  "I will not be vague about my wants, because vagueness leads to socks, ties and underwear"
In the recent past, I've seen innumerable cases where business owners have undershot the specificity and clarity needed to effectively communicate with their employees. In their book Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath say, "Script the critical moves -- be clear about how people should act.  Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors."  Let them know exactly (not vaguely) what it is you expect them to be doing and accomplishing.

In an age-old text on leadership, Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge, author Warren Bennis says, "The management of meaning and mastery of communication is inseparable from effective leadership." In business, leadership is all about clarity and frequency of communication.

A recurring commonality among non-performing companies is lack of clarity of expectations and measurable goals. The secondary effect is a lack of accountability -- people aren't clear on what they're supposed to be accomplishing and there aren't solid measurements of success in place, so trying to hold anyone accountable is impossible. The result?  People keep coming to work, exchanging their time for money, and resolve to just "do the best we can." Sound familiar?

As you lead your organization into 2011, you may want invoke the leadership corollary of this ad campaign:
"I will not be vague about my expectations, because vagueness leads to mediocrity, frustration and disappointment."
Happy New Year from Chief Executive Boards International!

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it 

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