Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

Why Leaders Should Constantly Reiterate What's Important

At a recent gathering of start-up company leaders, hosted by one of Behance’s investors, one CEO of a large internet company shared a lesson learned the hard way.

“I used to assume everyone on the team knew the grand vision, but an informal survey revealed the opposite. New employees had no idea what we were aiming for in the long term…” Clearly, he felt he was falling short of his leadership responsibility to clearly articulate goals.

It left me thinking: in my efforts not to be too repetitive, am I failing to communicate effectively? Sure, we have a major team offsite that covers long-term strategy once per year. But in every other meeting, I am focused on goals for the month and other team issues. Our roadmap is accessible to the entire team, and I’ve worked with at least half of these folks for many years. I always assume the team knows where we are headed.

I think the problem is, like watching a kettle boil, it’s hard to notice a team growing. When a team grows one person at a time, you assume that everyone knows everything — and that the important knowledge somehow spreads and soaks in. But someone who joins a week after our annual offsite could quite possibly work for an entire year without knowing our long term goals.

In a world full of noise, repetition helps important messages sink in. You may feel like a broken record, but your message will stand out as important only when it is heard multiple times.


Someone who joins a week after our annual offsite could work for an entire year without knowing our long term goals.

The same goes for brand messaging. How long has GEICO been about 15% or more off car insurance? Why do they use the same tag line year after year? Because they want their one key differentiator to soak into our minds. Your team may be tired of your slogan — or your logo or the color of your website — but the rest of the world is always just discovering it.

It’s becoming more clear to me: Effective leaders (and brands) repeat themselves to the point where they can barely stand to hear themselves any more. When it comes to setting strategy, they make a few simple points multiple times. And they compromise on “new messaging” to reiterate what is most important.

What about you?

How do you communicate your most important messages?

Scott Belsky

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Scott Belsky is Adobe's Vice President of Community and Co-Founder & Head of Behance, the leading online platform for creatives to showcase and discover creative work. Scott has been called one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business" by Fast Company, and is the author of the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.
load comments (8)
  • T

    The interesting thing is: those who are really connected to and fired up about the vision do not get disgusted. I remember running a group where I felt like I repeated the objective often and sounded like a broken record. Then I read some books on leadership and realized I was trending like a big dog. Every time I would reshare my core vision to the group it would reinvigorate them.

  • Thatsme

    Please tell me you don’t mean to repeat ad nausium in the same conversation/memo/meeting. Makes me feel like you don’t appreciate my ears (and the brain beyond them)

  • Sean Blanda

    At the same meeting? No. But among your team and throughout the week? Absolutely.

  • Scott Wagers

    Reminds me of an experience with one of the first research proposals I was involved in writing. The coordinator of the projecte insisted that the first part of the proposal was a brief outline of the whole project as well as there being a summary at the end. The whole proposal was only 5 pages long. So, I thought isn’t that being too repetitive.

    The competition was fierce. We were up against a group with a good track record and reputation for getting grants. While the discussion at the review meeting is meant to be confidential, We have learned our proposal was chosen because compared to the proposal from our competitors, it was very clear what we were going to do. Repetition won the day.

  • davidburkus

    Great piece Scott. I feel the same thing when I teach. There’s typically a few core lessons for each course that i find myself repeating over and over again in hopes that by week 18, the majority of folks “get it.” Good to know I’m not alone.

  • Uhmorphous

    The title is throwing me off (or up) a bit: do you mean “ad nauseam?”

  • Sean Blanda


  • certifyD

    You are so right when saying that “the rest of the world is always just discovering it.” Designers sometimes work on a single project or brand for months or years before the audience learns about it. Although, we may grow tired of it we need to keep our audiences reality in check at all times.

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