Leadership Language: Provisional, Plan and Promise

Is your communication with your team more confusing than it is helpful?

Summary
Transcript

As the author of 5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead, and cofounder of Giant Worldwide, Steve Cockram is in the business of providing tools for organizations to succeed. A key factor is having clear communication, and Steve takes it a step further to introduce new vocabulary that everyone can use to increase understanding and collaboration. The vocabulary, as Steve explains in this video, is: provisional, plan and promise. It’s important to be able to discern between these three concepts, particularly when collaborating, says Steve. Otherwise, for example, some people may leave a brainstorming session thinking a decision was reached (“plan”), while others leave feeling as if everyone simply shared some great ideas (“provisional.”) “Whenever I speak out loud, I'm usually dreaming and creating ideas,” says Steve. “But some people hear that as, ‘This is my considered opinion of what I promise will happen.’” Knowing when your words are, provisional, a plan or a promise will help you and your team avoid miscommunication and frustration, and increase productivity.

We've created a vocabulary language that worked for us, which is, whenever I speak out loud, I'm usually dreaming and creating ideas. But some people hear that as, "This is my considered opinion of what I promise will happen." So we created three words, which honestly, for most entrepreneurs, have been unbelievably life giving; they are: provisional, plan, and promise. Provisional means we're still thinking out loud. Everything is up in the air. All ideas are a good idea. Plan, this is our considered decision of what we're actually going to implement and deliver unless something hugely significant happens that we can't see right now. Promise is you can bet on this. My whole integrity of everything that I am is saying this will not change, and if it does, then something has gone fundamentally wrong in who I am. So I always say to people if you're not sure, just ask me, "Steve, is that provisional, plan, or promise?" Invariably, my answer will be, well it's provisional heading towards a plan. So a number of times, in the past, somebody would say, "You promised that would happen." I said, "No, I didn't." They said, "You did." And what we realized was it was I was thinking out loud, and what I tend to do as a pioneer, I test my hypotheses by arguing passionately for them to see whether someone can knock out the logic and tell me why it won't work. Or more often, I hear it enough and I know myself, "No, that isn't going to work." But some people hear my certainty in what I'm saying, assuming it must be what it is that's actually going to happen. So provisional, plan, and promise is another of those simple little vocabs that honestly oils the wheels of relationship inside any teams. Izzy, my eldest daughter, is a connector. So a classic example, Izzy said, "Are you going to come to my Christmas concert this year?" And I say, "Yes, I am." She said, "Is it provisional, plan, or promise?" I say, "It's a plan. Look, it's in my calendar. You can see it." "But Daddy, why is it not a promise?" I said, "Well, because I treat the promise as something that I will never change. So if you ask me, 'Daddy, do you love me?' Yes, and I promise I always will. But if something disastrous happens and I can't be at your Christmas concert, I don't want you looking back and think I broke a promise. Is that good?" She said, "Absolutely. That's fine." But it's almost like making sure your promises are absolutely cast iron because to break a promise undermines often your integrity and their future belief that anything you say means what you say it means. cate Effectively with Everyone You Lead, and cofounder of Giant Worldwide, Steve Cockram is in the business of providing tools for organizations to succeed. A key factor is having clear communication, and Steve takes it a step further to introduce new vocabulary that everyone can use to increase understanding and collaboration. The vocabulary, as Steve explains in this video, is: provisional, plan and promise. It’s important to be able to discern between these three concepts, particularly when collaborating, says Steve. Otherwise, for example, some people may leave a brainstorming session thinking a decision was reached (“plan”), while others leave feeling as if everyone simply shared some great ideas (“provisional.”) “Whenever I speak out loud, I'm usually dreaming and creating ideas,” says Steve. “But some people hear that as, ‘This is my considered opinion of what I promise will happen.’”Knowing when your words are, provisional, a plan or a promise will help you and your team avoid miscommunication and frustration, and increase productivity.
204845

Steve Cockram

Steve Cockram is co-founder of GiANT Worldwide, a global company dedicated to leadership transformation through intentional apprenticeship. He travels extensively all over the world, teaching and consulting with senior executives and ...

Take Action

Complete the following Action Items to put the insights in this video into practice,
and share them with your team to continue your leadership growth.

Perfect your new leadership skills every day with these exclusive Leadercast exercises, available to Subscribers! Click here to become a Subscriber.

Liquid error: No such template 'platform/programs/search-modal'