A senior executive we know was trying to turn his business around. He knew communication was important to getting this done, and he was very confident in his leadership approach. He developed a vision, mission, values, priorities, and at least three pages of integrated metrics; he held multiple meetings with his management group to review them; and he repeated his message as often as possible. But he felt like he was slogging through mud. "They just don't get it," he kept telling us.

His frustration came to a peak in an off-site meeting. In the middle of a discussion among several of his direct reports, he climbed up on his chair and said, "I don't think you all are hearing me." He went on to repeat his message, this time more loudly. ...

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