Russell Simmons is undoubtedly an African American leader and businessman to be admired, but I was a bit confused and concerned after listening to an interview he gave on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Roland Martin, Tom Joyner and Sybil Wilkes all asked Mr. Simmons the same question "What is the objective of Occupy Wall Street?" On each occasion, Mr. Simmons failed to give a direct response accessible to listeners. Instead he repeated what seemed to be scripted rhetoric along the lines of "We need to get the money out of Washington." I assume the purpose of the interview was to inform people about the sit-ins as well as a call to action. Unfortunately, neither purpose was achieved. Below are four items leaders need to include in their call to action to ensure followers understand what needs to be done and why they should commit themselves to the action.
Leadership Skill - Call to action
If a leader wants people/followers/employees to do something the leader must present a coherent, understandable message describing what people need to do and how people will benefit.
To initiate a call to action be sure to:
1. Speak in terms that every person, at every level of the organization (or in this case movement) can understand. Leave out jargon, business terms and political speak. Using everyday language also supports an atmosphere of camaraderie.
2. Be honest about the objectives, likely challenges and desired outcomes of the endeavor. Be specific about ways people can/will/should participate.
3. When possible and feasible get feedback/input/ideas from people about the endeavor. Including them in the process creates investment and increases the likelihood of action.
4. Reiterate how people will benefit from taking up the call to action. Include immediate benefits to bolster motivation for swift action and long-term benefits to help sustain action.
As the winter months bring cold, wet, difficult conditions the Occupy Wall Street movement may find its way indoors. Don't let a change of venue or other obstacles cloud your call for action. Use venue changes, opposing views or competing movements as an opportunity to restate your call for action. Realign or redesign your call for action so that followers maintain their understanding of the original goal in the context of change.
Leadership Skill Summary- Be clear and concise about what you what people to do, why you want them to do it and how they will benefit.
Tonia M. Richardson, DM, LPC, is the principal coach at Lotus Solutions: A Coaching Enterprise. Visit http://www.lotussolutionscoach.com/About-the-Coach.html to learn about the services available and to request a free 30 minute phone consultation.
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