The Importance of Communication:
Achieving Common Understanding

  • What is the importance of communication to your organization?
  • When is it effective communication?

Leaders communicate to create new or better awareness and achieve common understanding.

While there are many different types of communication, perhaps less known is the idea of intent, a concept practiced by all military commanders.

The Importance of Communication

Communicating Intent

The commander’s intent is a clear, concise statement of what the organization must do to achieve success and move from the current state to the desired end state.

Intent is not about giving specific instructions or restating the task at hand. Instead, it is about focusing the team on the overarching objectives, a key purpose of communication.

Overcoming Obstacles

Let’s review this concept by exploring what Lieutenant General (LTG) William “Gus” Pagonis, director of Logistics during the Gulf War and widely recognized for his logistical achievements, did in 1991 when given the responsibility to deploy U.S. Forces to the Gulf for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Within the first 30 days of Operation Desert Shield, LTG Pagonis needed to move the equivalent of a city’s worth of people and all of their belongings to Saudi Arabia.

In the next 60 days, he would have to repeat that same feat a half-dozen times more, which was only a fraction of the tests that lay ahead of him.

In his book, Moving Mountains, he demonstrates his intent and why everyone needs to understand and support broader organizational goals, so that moving mountains is possible.

What is Good Interpersonal Communication?

  • Why was this LTG Pagonis so successful?

LTG Pagonis would not have performed so ably had he not assembled a team of competent leaders that shared his view and could relate to his leadership style.

As a part of the military culture, everyone on his team believed and supported the underlying corporate values, therefore, LTG Pagonis had a head start.

Further, because his team connected with his vision, they were able to interpret the intent of his message every step of the way, take the initiative, and exploit a number of potential opportunities that came along.

Ultimately, LTG Pagonis’ team was able to achieve success over seemingly insurmountable odds because of clear communication and common understanding.

With everyone understanding his intent and the importance of communication, they were able to eliminate a number of obstacles that typically hinder an organization’s ability to work well together well.

Convey your message by clearly expressing your intent, vision, and values. Remove barriers that deter from your bottom line.

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