Thursday, October 16, 2008

Leadership Quote #2: Kouzes and Posner on Articulation and Leadership

There's nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can't clearly articulate why we're doing what we're doing.
- James Kouzes and Barry Posner

I think this is a great quote from James Kouzes and Barry Posner. Articulation of your vision and goals is a huge part of being an effective leader. If, as a leader, you can't effectively articulate why it is your team is doing what they are doing, then you can't get good "buy-in" from your team. There's really two main keys to this quote that I see worth dwelling on:
  1. The word "articulation." It really goes beyond communicating. Many leaders can communicate their vision. They can talk about their vision. They can inform the team of their vision. But, if they can't articulate the details of their vision (the true reasons of why "we're doing what we're doing"), then they can't effectively get everyone going in the same direction.
  2. The word "demoralizing." It sounds harsh, doesn't it? I think it's properly used. It is demoralizing for a team to be working towards a common goal where they have no idea why they are working towards that goal. When a team hasn't truly "bought in" to the direction they are heading, they become demoralized. That is, team morale starts to fall when people don't know why they are doing what they are doing. There's no passion. There's no purpose.

What abou the rest of you? How do you ensure that you are effectively articulating why it is you're doing what you're doing? How do you ensure morale stays high on your teams? Do you agree with James and Barry?

1 comment:

Jo Ellen Roe said...

One way to articulate your vision is to "walk the talk." I know this is common leadership advice, but it remains amazing to me how many people I've run into that don't practice what they preach. They always seem to excuse themselves from that responsibility.

Symbolism matters. Just look at the hue and cry that arose when the auto company leaders flew to Washington in private jets to request bailout money. Talk about NOT walking the talk!

It would be hard to work for those guys, have your own costs cut and your job threatened, while they continue their old behavior.

So articulate your vision with your actions as well as your words.