Are you effectively communicating your technology strategy to your team, and how do you know if there is real buy-in and acceptance?

There are concepts behind effective leadership that focus on how a message is crafted and delivered, thus instilling a call to action from a team. I have often thought that people buy in to new ideas when they feel more connected to their leadership. My premise today is that this is true–connection matters.

There is often a gap between strategic vision and employees embracing the vision. I saw it recently during a strategy review with a client team. There were facts on the presentation slides, but there was no passion in the presentation delivery. The delivery needed more inspiration for the team to rally around. As I scanned the faces in the room, it was clear that they weren’t bought into the new strategic vision. They had heard the same messages in the past and experienced outcomes that caused them to lose confidence. They asked, “what could be different this time around.”

At the meeting break, I asked the leader if he could make a small adjustment, open up, and share some specific real-life examples (stories) to connect the team. I mentioned that “Why it matters” or “What’s in it for me” questions make the strategy feel more personal. After the break, he returned with more energy and was willing to adjust his approach. As he opened up and shared his funny stories, soon, everyone was laughing and beginning to make a positive connection to the fundamental drivers for change. I was glad to see the leader adapt and shift away from his canned message to be authentic and focus on connecting and strengthening his relationship with the team.

Once he spoke from the heart and described how he had to adjust his attitude and fears with the new direction and vision, the walls between the vision and his team were broken.. It required vulnerability, empathy, and self-awareness to establish a point of reference and understanding of the current IT situation, thus creating an environment for the team’s buy-in.

Knowing the vision, believing in the vision, and living out the vision are all different stages of demonstrating true buy-in and acceptance.

Thoughts of a great new system with business process improvements can be exciting! However, “fluffy” words make it hard for teams to understand and take the steps needed to achieve positive outcomes. People remember the genuine connections with their leadership, thus impacting how they embrace the changes that will shape their careers. Creating that emotional connection to a strategic vision is essential. We all want our teams to have the passion, curiosity, and belief to take on new challenges and opportunities; however, it boils down to how the leader can communicate, guide, and demonstrate behaviors that define an organizational culture.

Sometimes knowledge is accepted, but it conflicts with the heart. The heart is where you truly start to foster the belief that there is hope for a brighter future. The heart is where a small spark ignites in a pivotal moment of understanding, acceptance, and buy-in. It is that point where awareness of the “why” and the “how it will impact me” actually meet. The heart is where a leader starts to inspire and motivate others to get on board. That momentum creates positive energy to focus with clarity on the new direction in ways that are quite remarkable.

The next time you have an opportunity to share your IT strategy with your team, consider how to build a connection with the hearts in the room. You will be amazed at how this small change can have a significant impact.

Kimberley Reid is VP of Digital Enterprise, SAP Solutions for Hitachi Vantara. She continues her people focused commentaries for ASUG Executive Exchange. Reid draws on everyday technology, project, people, and leadership experiences of her career. She plans a forthcoming book based on these experiences and reflections.

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