Recently I did a post called “Leading Hummingbirds and Eagles.” This post looked at two different kinds of people that might be on your team. I looked at some ways to identify each type and why it was important to know which one you are and which ones are on your team. For this post I am sticking with this bird them, with a twist.
If you have not seen the Hunger Games movies, then you may not completely understand this reference. I recently watched both the first and second movies with my family. In the first one, Hunger Games, We are introduced to a breed of bird called mockingjays. We watch as the star of the movie whistles a tune that is them repeated by the mockingjays. As I watched this I thought about how, as leaders, this relates to the people we lead.
People are not mockingjays. I certainly would not suggest that the people we lead are like the mockingjays in the movie. They do not mindlessly repeat what they hear. Rather they are intelligent and talented people with minds of their own. We should be sure to treat them as such.
They should be saying what we are saying. While we don’t want the people we lead to just mindlessly repeat what we say, we do want them be saying the same kinds of things that we are saying. If we want our people to live out the vision that God has given us, then we need to share it with them often enough that they are able to say it to. If while walking among your team members you hear them saying the same kinds of things that you are saying, then this is a sign of success.
They should also UNDERSTAND what we are saying. There is one danger in the people we lead saying the same things we are saying. There is a chance that they will simply be repeating what they have heard, much like the mockingjay. They could be saying the right things without actually understanding what we are saying. They could also be repeating it without having internalized it. For a time this can be ok, but the long term goal would be for them to understand and internalize the vision.
What now? The goal is to have the people you lead talking the talk, but not simply mindlessly repeating it. To reach this goal you need to talk about the vision as often as you can. This goes beyond just an annual training. This is about regular conversations throughout the year. This is about including bits of the vision in any communications that you do. Basically any chance you have to communicate the vision to your people, do it.
Don’t stop there. Don’t stop at repeating the vision often, help your people understand it. Ask questions that help you gauge their level of understanding. Ensure that your communications are clear and easy to understand. Ask them how they fit into the vision. Ask them how you can help them to understand the vision and their part in it better. Do whatever you can to help them learn, understand and make themselves part of the vision.Matt Norman
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