How do CEOs visualize and describe the direction they believe their companies need to take in a way that captures their thoughts and communicates them for their subordinate leaders to reference and ensure understanding? The days of CEOs verbalizing a strategic direction and expecting their teams to turn that into action without their involvement are long gone. The world just changes too fast.

Not only does the dynamic nature of the business world change how companies must communicate, but so does how we work. Leaders cannot always walk down the hallway and bounce an idea off their teammates. Companies often function in a world of decentralized work environments with employees connected digitally through apps. In the dynamic world of rapid changes and decentralized work, how we engage with one another is changing as well and is more important than ever before.

Next-generation talent appreciates an effective communicator. Specifically, they want leaders who are open with their communication. Open communication does not merely mean being available for a conversation whenever desired. Keeping the “door open” does not make someone an effective communicator.

In its truest form, effective communication is the ability to deliver the good and the bad in real-time. All generations want performance feedback. And they want it in a timely manner. Being open with both praise and constructive criticism is a skill that young employees look for in a strong leader.

  • Effective Communicator is the third most essential trait Millennials look for in a manager (from “The Global Shapers Survey”).
  • Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them (from Gallup’s “Employees Want a Lot More from Their Managers”).
  • Being able to communicate expectations clearly was the third most important quality in a manager according to 20- to 30-year-olds (from Qualtrics and Accel Partners Survey).

Communicating with clarity on what you intend, the purpose behind your ideas, and how it all comes together is never more important than now. You must provide this clarity through a framework that connects visualization with action.

This framework requires a level of engagement in the 21st century that is unlike what CEOs may have learned in MBA programs or by watching their bosses over their years of growth. It requires leaders in organizations to understand what is in the minds of their CEOs, their intentions, and how they are framing their visualization in their minds. What’s more, the face of engaged leadership has changed and requires leaders to take deliberate action to communicate their intentions throughout the depth of their organization.

One of the principal reasons that middle managers are struggling is because they lack the experience or holistic vision to truly understand how their CEOs expect a strategy to come together in the end. Commander’s Intent is the solution for this.

By communicating their intent, CEOs align their organizations by conveying how they see the situation and the implementation of a new initiative. This visualization and description provide a framework, not a script. Some CEOs hesitate to offer this necessary clarity because they do not want to stifle initiative by telling their team how to execute their guidance.

Only CEOs can visualize an initiative from beginning to end because of their holistic knowledge of broad-reaching goals, resources, time, and desired impact. By developing an approach that connects their visions to the organization, CEOs help others see why the critical pieces must connect in a unique and nuanced way to achieve results, and ensure unity of purpose.

This broad approach enables decentralized decision-making and disciplined initiative by allowing the team to know what is inside the mind of the CEO and reducing organizational uncertainty. It enables the team to rapidly make decisions that are best for the organization when the unexpected occurs. It allows highly intelligent junior leaders to apply judgment without having to ask for permission from their bosses.

This approach goes beyond just a vision statement. It communicates a framework that describes conditions necessary for success, broad actions, and mechanisms to gain the advantage. It builds and sustains momentum and major focus areas.