Is Your Message Lost in Translation?

A translation is no translation, he said, 

unless it will give you the music of a poem 

along with the words of it.

John Millington Synge, Irish Writer

A couple of weeks ago I delivered a keynote to a group of senior leaders called ‘Changing the Game’. The key message was this: when you learn to think more laterally about achieving your end goal, you remove limitations that could be holding you back. You get to the outcome faster, easier and with less drama.

The session was well-received. They loved the idea of challenging existing norms and finding new ways to approach old problems.

Yet this audience is made up of people who aren’t at the front line. They’re not the ones who are closest to their customer. What’s needed now is for them to take this idea and help their people put it into practice. They need to help them imagine and apply an abstract idea in their own context.

These leaders need to be translators.

I think one of the hardest challenges a senior leader faces is to take inspiration and turn it into implementation. Especially when it’s not you who’s doing the implementation. You might have a brilliant strategy day and come away fizzing, but how do you translate that strategy into results in a way that means the ideas aren’t lost in translation? You engage your people with the ideas in ways that they not only can understand, but will immediately run with. 

How do you do that? It’s less about being the messenger, and more about being the facilitator. The root of the word ‘facilitate’ means ‘to make easy’. Make it easy for people to get it. 

As an example, my keynotes are interactive. They aren’t monologues. I create pauses throughout the delivery and ask people to reflect and talk about what they’ve just heard. That’s in service of helping people to ‘get it’ at a deeper level.

Dial down your hero, and dial up your host. A good host creates the conditions for people to engage with the ideas. When you have a set of powerful questions and practical processes to help people do sense-making and idea-generation, you tap into the collective brilliance that exists in your people.

It’s time for a different kind of leadership. One that goes beyond simply information sharing. One that facilitates sense-making, engagement and collaboration. 

Up for the challenge?

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