Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leadership: The Science of Selling the Vision – Dianne Worrall

Leadership: The Science of Selling the Vision

Leaders are often called “visionaries”. A powerful vision can motivate and excite employees and serve as a catalyst for intrinsic reward, such as a sense of satisfaction gained from the creation of a quality product or working as a team to achieve a goal. Research demonstrates that intrinsic reward is more effective in driving engagement and performance than its extrinsic, “carrot and stick” type counterpart (Accountability Leadership, 2013, Di Worrall).  According to an article by Louis Efron that appeared in “Forbes” on June 24, 2013, a lack of management vision is the main reason why employees abandon jobs and their managers as often as every one and a half years. But what if the vision is there but another component is not. A powerful vision is of no use if not communicated effectively.

While having vision is critical to effective leadership, Stephen P. Robbins, author of “Organizational Behavior”, writes that three other crucial skills are necessary to persuade others to share your perspective. The first is the ability to communicate a vision through written and oral means.  Think of any great visionary and they are most likely effective communicators. Bill Clinton has a talent to break down a complex idea and explain it clearly and engagingly in a manner that a majority can understand.  Ronald Reagan was coined “The Great Communicator”; Mark Twain blended humour and the English language in a way that rendered his visions timelessly facetious. Winston Churchill’s speeches are epic; Nelson Mandela’s quiet eloquence is strengthened by a lifelong conviction to his beliefs.

The second skill is the ability to lead and communicate by example or “walk the walk”. Hypocrisy has never garnered trust and respect to which many a chagrined politician or shamed religious leader can attest. Third, is the ability to extend the vision to different contexts so that it has meaning to all concerned. For example, a new technology needs to make sense to the shareholders, the engineers, the marketers, as well as to the IT staff who must work round the clock to ensure its installation.

Additionally, visionary leaders would do well to take a cue from great marketers who have long known of the power of visual imagery in making a vision stick.  75 percent of the brain’s neurons prefer visual stimuli to other sensory stimuli. This has been borne out in studies which indicate that as much as 90 percent of information presented in images was recalled 72 hours after being presented versus only 10 percent of textual information.

The lesson for leaders: A vision is one thing, but the ability to sell it is just as important.

Post by Di Worrall

Award-winning Business Transformation & Strategy Consultant, Best Selling Author, Executive Coach

Find out more in Di Worrall’s latest #1 Amazon best selling book: Accountability Leadership – How Great Leaders Build a High Performance Culture of Accountability and Responsibility (2013) at

Di Worrall

Accountability Leadership Saves Tech Company

In 2005, HCL Technologies was in trouble.

The Delhi-based IT firm was losing market share, as competitors grew by 50% annually.

By 2009, HCL’s president, Vineet Nayar had turned the company around, nearly tripling annual revenues and doubling market capitalisation despite the recession.

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The Rules Of Accountability Have Changed

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