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Connecting the Dots

Do you remember the days when we practiced counting and letters and connected the dots on activity and coloring pages? Or when you helped your child or grandchild with their crayon or a pencil and moved it from number one to number two using a line to connect the dots? When finished, a shape took form and created a beautiful flower, rainbow, or some other picture. This analogy translates nicely to leadership.

In making connections to the overall strategy and vision in an organization, we need to help employees connect the dots. While we do not want to treat employees like children, it is important that we take extra steps as leaders to be sure employees have the information needed to fully understand what the future will look like by carrying out the responsibilities for their role. We need to help them connect the dots. Leaders at the highest levels must especially apply this concept.

Executives and senior leaders can make the connections more easily to the bigger picture, because they have all or most of details and the reasons behind it.

Perhaps leaders have directly crafted the vision or most certainly been part of its creation. Leaders have been part of many conversations that their employees have not. Employees do not have the minor details and likely do not participate in meetings where the big picture is discussed. They have not had the chance to know how important the big picture is to the organization. They cannot easily make the connections to what senior leaders have envisioned for the bigger picture. But they will if you help them connect the dots to the overall vision.

Just as we helped our own children or grandchildren in the early stages of learning by using our own hand to guide them through a “connect the dots” exercise, we need to follow a similar exercise as organizational leaders.

We need to slow down enough to help them understand what the big picture will look like. We need to get them excited about the vision by sharing what the future will look like as a result of their work. As they are completing their tasks and other responsibilities and taking steps to move from step one to step two, or project A to B, we need to encourage them. We need create trust, welcome their feedback, and invite them to join us in bringing the company’s vision to life.

Leaders who communicate vision effectively by connecting the dots are purposeful and passionate.

They share stories about the big picture consistently and ensure their front-line managers have the talking points to bring the vision to life. Leaders at all levels should align their own leadership vision and that of their department or division to the overall vision. This will require open spaces for conversation, idea sharing, and radical listening. And all these efforts will be worth it as employees connect the dots. Without this purposeful and passionate action, your employees will disconnect, and your vision may never come to life.

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