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14 August 2019

How to get people to buy into your vision

Following last week’s FPM Annual Leadership talk, Feargal McCormack reflects on leadership and how to get people to buy into your vision.

Last week, we were honoured to have Padraig McManus as the keynote speaker at the FPM Annual Leadership Talk. A former CEO of the ESB, Padraig has extensive experience of leading large and diverse teams and managing change in challenging circumstances. His achievements include leading the £1bn acquisition of NIE Networks and overseeing the financial, political and general stakeholder issues of integrating the NIE business into the ESB Group.

In a wide-ranging address Padraig discussed the importance of leaders having a clear vision and communicating it effectively. He also stressed the importance of challenging your team and stretching them to achieve more.

“If you could extract 5 percent more from every employee, imagine the productivity you would achieve,” Padraig said.

Clarity and Communication

Clarity and communication were key themes to come across in Padraig’s address. Only by understanding where you are now, where you want to go, and how you are going to get there, can you communicate this effectively to your team.

At FPM we encourage leaders to improve their vision by actively seeking feedback from trusted advisors. Is the vision clear? Is anything missing? Can anything be improved?

Remember that communication is neither one-way nor once-off. Good communication is an ongoing process.

Focus on the future

All of us learn from past experience but it is equally important to focus on the future. Keep in mind that the way that things were done in the past may not be the best way to do them going forward and thus we must always be prepared to embrace change and demonstrate agility, flexibility and open mindedness to implement innovation and change to respond to evolving market conditions. To put it simply, pro-activity and transparency should be at the heart of everything we do.

Individual roles

Be clear about each individual’s role and make sure that each individual understands how their contribution supports the organisation’s strategy. Individuals need to understand why they are being asked to do something. It’s not enough simply to tell them to do it. Using inclusive language such as ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’ helps bind people to your vision.


Padraig stressed the importance of setting clear goals and giving honest and valid feedback when evaluating your team members. We recently discussed goal-setting and review on this blog, stressing that this should be an ongoing process.

Equally, it is important to accept feedback. Encourage employees to bring problems to you but also to bring suggested solutions. Be willing to listen and work with your employees to solve problems. We encourage employees to suggest OFI’s (Opportunities For Improvement).

Finally, be prepared to admit when you are wrong. Learning and adapting your strategy to changing circumstances will make your business stronger and show your employees that you value their buy-in.


FPM’s Annual Leadership Talk was part of the 2018 MLM Management Month initiative, in association with Ulster University Business School held at the Belfast campus.


To view the video of the FPM Annual Leadership Talk with Padraig McManus please click here.

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