492: The Antidote to Leadership Communication Woes
Most employees feel that communication in the workplace is lacking and also have a hard time trusting their bosses. By figuring out your reason for being and your customers’ reason for buying, these issues can begin to be resolved. In episode 492, Dave Mastovich helps leaders improve their storytelling, trust in their organizations, and ultimately, their leadership communication woes.
It’s the No Bullshit Marketing Show. I’m Dave Mastovich, CEO and founder of MASSolutions, the world’s only No Bullshit Marketing consultants. This episode is about the antidote to leadership communication woes. In case you’re wondering about the severity of the leadership communication woes, in general, or maybe even specifically at your organization, I have a couple of hard hitting anecdotes tied to statistics for you.
The first is 58% of employees would rather trust a stranger than their boss. That’s from a Harvard Business Review research report 2022. 82% of employees feel their productivity suffers because of the lack of communication up, down and across the organization. Let’s take the first one. 58% of employees rather trust a stranger than their boss. When you have a trust issue, it often begins with not relating to the other person. Relatability comes from commonalities. Commonalities are often expressed through story. So the relatability happens, which leads to a relationship being built, which leads to trust being built. So your storytelling plays a role in the level of trust with your employees. It also plays a role with those 82% who feel that their productivity suffers because of lack of communication up, down and across the organization, because you’re telling them to do something in your way, through your channel. And you’re often under duress and pressed for time so you’re not leveraging the power of story in as many instances as you need to. You’re not using anecdotes and analogies, you’re not repeating that message, you’re not using different channels than the ones you like. And as a result, 82% of employees feel their productivity could be better if communication improved. Today, we’re going to work on that with an antidote to leadership communication woes. And the antidote is all about the big idea, asking, what’s the big idea? And to get to that point, you’re actually going to ask two why questions.
The first why comes from Simon Sinek and his fantastic book of over a decade ago, called Start With Why. That book was about how, as a leader, we have to ask, what’s our why or reason for being? When I read the book, I thought, boy, that is really powerful. And we should do that as leaders and as organizations. And we should do that in situations when we have to communicate. But it’s only one of the two why questions that we have to answer. Let me talk more about the first why. First, your why or reason for being. There was a chef, before we even knew the term farm to table, who was big on sustainably raised foods with his restaurant. He believed that that was what we all should have had. And he would get frustrated because he knew his restaurant had a limited number of seatings and reservations were filled quickly. And so he wasn’t able to bring those sustainably raised foods to as many people as he wanted to. This is way back before you even heard that phrase farm to table. His why or reason for being was sustainably raised foods should not be an elitist pursuit. Anyone should be able to have sustainably raised foods. He set out to build a restaurant that could do that. A chain that could do that. And his name is Steve Ells, and that company is Chipotle.
But the reason that you can’t stop with only one why, your why or reason for being is you have to think about the second why, your customers’ why or reason for buying. And I love to give this example of Carter, my son, and this started years ago, I think he was about 13 or so. During COVID, when I would be doing these talks virtually, I would pull him over, ‘This is the Carter I just told you about.’ Oh, Carter loves Chipotle. Loves it. And every single time he wants to go to Chipotle he says, ‘Dad,’ Think about it, back then he was 12-13 years old, even earlier. He said, ‘Dad, sustainably raised food should not be an elitist pursuit.’ No, no. No, Carter didn’t say that when he was 10, 11, 12, 13. Carter would say, ‘Dad, I want me some Chipotle. I love it. I love the atmosphere. Get some queso and chips. I got my favorite bowl that I’m going to get.’
That’s because the second why, customers’ why or reason for buying has to play a role in your storytelling. And we’re talking about the big picture right now. And the beauty of it is when you answer those two why questions, your why or reason for being – sustainably raised foods should not be an elitist pursuit – your customers why or reason for buying – I love Chipotle, I love the way it looks, the stores, it’s not McDonald’s, it’s not Wendy’s, it’s just different, love it, love the queso and chips. Often those two why questions are answered with enough overlap in parts that you can now build your big idea. Think about it. Chipotle has a tagline now of for real, Chipotle for real. It’s playing off of sustainably raised foods, but it’s also a quick catchy for real. I need some Chipotle for real.
They had a Super Bowl ad years ago when they showed the son who went away to school and came back to help his dad’s farm. That was playing off of sustainably raised food should not be an elitist pursuit, it was playing off of a family mindset. But it also has always been different. Beyond the sustainably raised foods, walking in that first Chipotle compared to Wendy’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, it was completely different. And so that’s the top line example of a slogan to break it down for you with a place we all know about. But here’s the thing, those two why questions need to be answered for any storytelling challenge. Any time you want to make a presentation, whether it’s an internal presentation to the leadership team, an internal presentation to your direct reports, an internal presentation to peers, you should think about that and say, ‘What’s my why or reason for being in this situation with this presentation? What’s my customers’ why, the people I’m presenting to, their reason for buying? What will get them to do what we need them to do?’ And sometimes you might say their reason they’re at the meeting is to get through the meeting. Those people just want to get through the meeting and get on to their next meeting or get on to lunch or get on to some time to do their work. But if you know that it helps you and helps you to understand how you’re going to frame that message, you might say a percentage of the people are coming into this meeting just to get it over with, another percentage are coming in because they have one or two issues they want to get covered, and then there’s a small percentage that are kind of on the same page as you. So when you do that, and you say I’ve got my why or reason for being in this, their why or reason for buying, and I now take the same philosophy that we use when we’re doing a tagline for UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, like we did a while ago, and for Chipotle, or for any company, it goes way beyond the slogan or tagline.
This antidote to leadership communications woes goes to using the two why questions to then have one big idea that frames the major takeaway of that meeting. Because let me tell you something, folks. If you think when you go into a meeting that you’re going to have each person in that meeting take away three, four or five things, you are sadly mistaken. We have to hope we can get them to take away one thing correctly. And if there’s a theme, a core idea, a core message, a big idea for that presentation that you want them to take away and then you build off of that with the supporting storytelling pillars. My supporting storytelling pillars were 58% of employees would trust a stranger over their boss and 82% think productivity suffers up, down and across the organization. But the two why’s to one big idea with the Chipotle example is what I hope your takeaway is. If you also remember those stats, but you remember Steve Ells and Chipotle, and you remember Carter getting embarrassed during COVID when I pull him over and say this is Carter, that’s the takeaway.
I have one thing that I want you to take away is to use the two why questions for any internal or external presentation, if you have to write a major email, if you do decide to do a marketing campaign, if you’re doing something to your employees to B2E, business-to-employee, to communicate, educate, motivate, have that one big idea, that core theme built around your why or reason for being in that instance, and their why or reason for buying what you were trying to convey to them in that instance. Get those two answers in your head prior to deciding how you’re going to present.
You’ll see the same commonalities every time that Steve Ells did that, yes, sustainably raised food is not an elitist pursuit isn’t why everyone’s coming, but they are coming because Chipotle is different than a fast food place. He kind of almost invented fast casual with Panera and a couple others. So it does, there was some overlap. So when they do a campaign like Chipotle for real, it kind of works, and the Superbowl ad works. So you have the same commonalities if your problem is we want to increase retention by doing X and Y. That’s your takeaway, when you say a couple of major stats of how that’s going to happen. So this is your antidote to leadership communication woes, is to focus on the two why questions to formulate one big idea before any storytelling challenge or storytelling opportunity – could be a blog post, could be an internal video, could be employee training, could be a webinar, a workshop, could be an ad campaign. Whatever that approach is, ask those two why questions, your why or reason for being in this instance and what you’re trying to achieve, and your customers’ why or reason for buying the idea that you’re selling. Formulate that into one big idea. That’s the overarching theme of what you’re going to accomplish. And then have supporting storytelling pillars similar to the 58% that would rather trust a stranger than their boss that I used in this instance, the 82% that think their communication suffers, even throwing Carter in there’s kind of a supporting storytelling pillar. But the big idea is I want you to answer the two why questions, and then form one big idea. You can do that too, in any storytelling challenge or storytelling opportunity.
If you’d like to talk more about this, shoot me an email, Dave@MASSolutions.biz. I will gladly have an interchange on email or phone, just talk through any questions you might have about overcoming your communication woes as a leader. I love helping other leaders. So Dave@MASSolutions.biz
Thanks for listening to another episode of the No Bullshit Marketing Show recorded here in MASSolutions studio in bold, beautiful, downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Remember, ask yourself, what’s the big idea? And build your story around the answer. It’s all about bold solutions. No BS.