Without looking on Google, can you quickly tell me what Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign slogan is? If you are like most people, your answer is: “I don’t know.” You are not alone. In fact, Clinton is on her fourth slogan of the campaign. (In case you don’t want to look it up, the latest slogan is “Hillary for America.” Ted Cruz also had four campaign slogans this year.)
Now, quick: Tell me Donald Trump’s campaign slogan? More than likely, you were able to respond quickly with, “Make America Great Again.”
Renowned author Andy Stanley used these political slogans as a backdrop for a discussion with a group of business leaders about the importance of a company executive to have succinct and repetitive clarity in his or her message to employees. Stanley pointed out that leaders recognize that clarity of message will win out over integrity in almost every instance. Indeed, both Clinton and Trump have the lowest ratings for integrity among all the candidates, yet they have both emerged as the party nominees.
Stanley, who is also host of the MSNBC show “Your Move with Andy Stanley,” while careful to point out that his speech is apolitical, was telling integrators how important it is to express your vision over and over and over again to employees.
Even though survey after survey shows that what people want most in a leader is integrity, honesty, trustworthiness and the ability to keep promises, Stanley says, “People will follow a person who has clarity, not the person who necessarily has integrity. You can have both integrity and clarity, but if you only have integrity you will only do ‘OK.’ Clarity is magnetic; it wins out over integrity and certainty.”
As a keen example of how clarity wins out over integrity, Stanley pointed to Adolf Hitler. The demonic leader of Germany was able to clearly express his future vision for the nation and get millions of Germans to blindly follow him, even though we know he had no integrity.
“People forgive leaders who make mistakes as long as they are clear,” notes Stanley, adding, “You must be able to express your vision for your company.”
Back to Trump, he has stayed on the same slogan throughout his campaign, repeating it over and over again. According to Stanley, the slogan is a winner because it “has an element of emotion.”
“Trump is smart enough to focus on the ‘what’ and not the ‘how.’ ‘How’ can kill a great idea in a company. Clarity overtakes integrity,” says Stanley. “We vote for candidate who is clearest about what we hold dearest. We value integrity but follow clarity … it applies to all of us as business leaders. You must have vision or a mental picture of a ‘what’ you want to achieve and not a ‘how’ you are going to achieve it.”
Stanley, who has authored more than 20 best-selling books, was just one of the speakers at Leadercast, a day-long event held in Atlanta each year that brings together business leaders from around the world to discuss effective leadership strategies. More than 5,000 businesspeople attend in person and more than 100,000 watch the event via a live stream. This year’s event theme was “Becoming an Architect of Tomorrow.” Other speakers included Alabama football coach Nick Sabin and CBS Sports host James Brown among many others.
How to Make Vision Stick
Stanley says that “vision is fueled by conviction. It is a mental picture of a preferred future. Those who have clarity and vision will emerge as leaders in your company.” He calls clarity the “essence of leadership.”
So as a custom integrator, how can you make vision “stick” with your employees? Here are Stanley’s four tips:
- State It Simply – Paragraphs do not “stick.” Memorable is portable. “Incomplete and memorable is better than complete and forgettable,” he says. He advises integrators to always ask this one question about your company: If we are a solution, what is the problem? “That will help you focus on stating your vision simply,” he notes, adding that typically non-profits do a better job at stating clarity than for-profit businesses do because they have to be laser focused to raise money and move people’s hearts. “In business, this is just as important but it is much less apparent,” he adds.
- Cast It Convincingly – State the problem, then offer the solution, then explain why, says Stanley. An example of an so-so vision statement might be akin to “We will be the integrator of choice when people replace their home technology.” Instead, the vision needs to encompass a greater purpose, perhaps something that covers “why” it is important for a home to have technology. Perhaps a vision statement that expresses how information makes the world go around so you, “Build systems that help make the world go around.”
- State Your Vision Over and Over Again — “Vision does not stick. It must be repeated regularly,” notes Stanley.
- Celebrate It Systematically — “What is rewarded is repeated,” says Stanley, so make sure you have mechanisms in place in your custom integration company to recognize employees who are fulfilling the company’s vision statement. Stanley adds that this will transform your company beyond just being a platform for employees to get a paycheck.
“This is a really big deal and if you do your homework it might be a really big deal for you,” he concludes.
Integrators can subscribe to Leadercast Now, (and enter the promo code: EHPUB to receive a $100 discount) an ongoing service that opens them up to a huge library of video content on how to run your business effectively. Subscribers can have access to the library via an app on their phone.
Driving home the need for leadership in business Leadercast CEO Keith Wilmot cites data that 85 percent of people believe the world has a leadership crisis, and 50 percent of the workforce is disengaged from their company’s goals. He notes that three out of every four people say they would take a new boss over a pay raise.
By the way, Stanley points out that Clinton is likely not to blame for the lack of clarity in her campaign message. He says that campaign slogans are written by staffers and they change “because the other one didn't stick” with voters.