For most leaders, a traditional “elevator speech” is not as practical and/or effective as having a SOTU (State of the Union) at the ready. It is that quick, five to ten minute, communication that addresses what others in the organization most want to know. It usually involves four essential elements – 1) Where are we currently, 2) Where are we headed in the near future, 3) How are we going to get there from here 4) and, customized to the audience, what it means to me/us.
In sharing this with a friend and colleague, he noticed that these are essentially the fundamental questions of coaching. I would agree. Coaching engages leaders to co-create new ways of thinking and performing that allow them to meet and/or exceed their desired outcomes. The SOTU is a tool that communicates the organization’s desired outcomes and why we want to get there. It facilitates telling the story of constant change.
In working with top leaders in various industries, I highly encourage them to have a SOTU ready to go at the beginning of a meeting. It is the “why” that frames and gives context to the “how” we will address that in this meeting. In sharing the SOTU, the leader creates an environment where shared understanding of the vision and alignment of strategies to achieve the vision gain clarity and thrive. What leader/organization couldn’t benefit from that?
When it comes to communication, most of us desire the cascade as opposed to the trickle. When a leader shares the SOTU, it models how to cascade communication and creates the cascade at the same time. Unleashing the flow of communication and modeling a leadership competency through the SOTU is both scalable and efficient. So, as a leader, have your SOTU at the ready and share it freely with others – Be the cascade you desire!
(Originally published February 27, 2013)