And blessed are the other ‘weird people’ – the visionary entrepreneurs – for they persevere against tremendous odds to teach us to ‘see their vision through our eyes.”
The major challenge:
Entrepreneurs are required to boil-down, simplify and communicate -
- an often abstract and complex vision -
- in business terms -
in order to provide the clarity and direction that employees and other stakeholders need to engage and implement.
All of this while managing their own sense of urgency, which can be extreme based on a combination of factors, including: their financial exposure, their understanding of both the window of opportunity and the fickleness of the market, and their often misplaced expectations of the ability and commitment of others to understand and implement in real time.
A crucial variable: these stakeholders bring with them a wide variety of experience, perspectives, abstract thinking capabilities, personalities, and learning styles. This happens as a natural consequence of hiring for balanced capabilities and specialized knowledge. So, communications that are effective for some of them are unlikely to be as effective for others.
And some of them will be ‘wired’ to be skeptical, resistant and often increasingly critical of anything they consider to be ‘out there’. Often, this is because they don’t have the clarity they need to connect the dots between the vision and mission – and their role and deliverables. Unfortunately, few will admit it and ask questions.
This group is the litmus test for communication effectiveness [and hiring effectiveness – but that’s a different topic.] If you can convert and consistently engage them, they may become fierce advocates. [More later about what to do if you can’t.]
The second most challenging group is the self-directed entrepreneurial types who would rather ask forgiveness than permission, and who proceed to implement based on their own version of the vision. Hiring in your own image is common among entrepreneurs, who also yearn for people who ‘get it’ and can implement before the window closes. Communicating clearly and frequently checking for buy-in and agreement are crucial. Gaining buy-in without clipping their wings is a delicate operation – and most entrepreneurs lose a few good people before they find the balance point.
In the midst of this, we also communicate far more than we intend to nonverbally. How often is an entrepreneur/ owner asked by numerous people “Everything ok?” or “What’s wrong?” because they were distracted and less responsive than usual for a few hours, while pondering a tough decision.
It’s a difficult task to consistently convey enthusiasm and confidence – especially when you sometimes feel that you’re walking a tightrope over a firepit.