This article was co-authored by Doug Akers and Jill Kolb.

Becoming proficient at anything — leadership, law, yoga, dungeons, and dragons — takes time. We know this. And yet as humans, we are inherently lazy, always looking for a quick fix to achieve a goal or solve a problem. From fad diets to life hacks, evidence of our desire to fast track experience is everywhere, especially in business.

However, when it comes to leading a business, effectively communicating with a colleague, team or organization, hacks, and quick tricks becomes useless. Why? The truth is, to communicate effectively and to inspire action requires building a story that creates meaning, connection, and ultimately trust.

You can’t hack meaning.

Jane didn’t sleep much last night. She’s been working for weeks on this new direction for the company while at the same time keeping the team moving on the day today. It will touch just about every function and change what people are focused on. Today is the big day, the day she presents the strategy to her team and the entire company. With equal parts nerves and excitement, she watches them enter the room and pop-up on the remote video screen. An hour later she is elated as the presentation went just as she’s been rehearsing it, there were very few questions and so she dismisses the team. She walks back to her workspace filled with energy and excitement but when she looks at some of the others she notices their body language is more that of confusion. Dismissing it as caused by her lack of sleep Jane starts in on her email when her right hand operations lead comes over and asks her to talk privately…

What do you think Jane hears in the next 15 minutes?

Too many leaders, organizations, departments, and teams present solutions to people, spending countless hours developing content and designing presentations to communicate a solution, only to have minimal uptake or success when launched.

We have all experienced being given solutions without actively taking part in the problem-solving journey: “enhancing” company culture by rolling out an organizational intranet site with abysmal engagement rates, a shift in business strategy that makes no tangible sense to your role, a senior hire announced without any context or explanation, or a random change in process that you’re supposed to employ with minimal training somehow learning through osmosis.

Perhaps similar to Jane, many leaders may think that by merely communicating their strategy with their leadership team, the change will occur, the organization now understands and the strategy will be implemented. You’ve communicated your message, people understand, you can now move onto the next challenge, right? Wrong.

An assumption like this dismisses the crucial step of making the change or message meaningful to those who are expected to implement it. With a “top-down” approach, it falls to the lower level manager or employee to contextualize new updates, and with a lack of context the changes often mean little to them, their teams, and in turn, the wider organization is left disjointed or confused.

You can’t hack connection.

True meaning and connection are developed through engagement, active communication, and participation. It is quite different from the “talking at people” approach that Jane used, regardless of how good you believe the message to be. Even if you don’t have all the answers, bringing the audience, the team, along with in the process and communicating the “why” will make them a part of that solution.

By engaging employees in the problem-solving process, you make it meaningful to them, their role, and their team, and it allows them to begin to align their experience with the direction you want to go or message you want them to hear.

You can’t hack trust.

As a leader, when you combine meaning and connection, you begin to build trust. Sharing your message of change isn’t just a one and done event, it takes repetition, in many different forms and mediums to make sure it resonates and is understood by others. It takes connecting to the emotional as well as the logical side of a person’s mind.

When people are emotionally invested, understand how a change is meaningful to their role, and are connected to a transparent process, they begin to trust. Trust is the unseen glue that holds organizations together. Because of trust, your employees and teams will see themselves as part of something larger and will go beyond what is asked of them. They know they aren’t alone, they believe they’re supported through the process. This builds long term, sustainable loyalty.

It takes time

The phrase that everyone in our fast-paced, immediate gratification world dreads. Yes, to communicate a message, to get people on board, and have it land the way you want it to takes time. It also makes testing and iteration.

Crafting a story that resonates, even if it’s as simple as communicating a change to a workflow process, takes energy, repetition, and presence. Going in the cold to a conversation can lead to miscommunication, misinterpretation, and unwanted action, which translates to lost time. And if misunderstanding and frustration occur repeatedly, it can cause the erosion of trust and ultimately disengagement.

Dare to lead

Now, you may be thinking that this all sounds, well…not easy or fast — who wants to spend time thinking about communicating an idea? Shouldn’t it just flow naturally? Aren’t people either a natural communicator or not?

The answer is: no.

To lead in anything you do takes time, energy and investment — sure there are natural communicators, but everyone needs to work at it (if the Michael Jordan Netflix docuseries has taught us anything it’s that MJ had a lot of natural talent, but he was also obsessed with getting better, always). You practice, you test your hypothesis, you ask questions and you gain data, you address concerns early and bring the team along with you in the process.

In the end, communicating your idea is about fine-tuning your storytelling craft. It’s not just about the story you create, it’s about inviting others to help co-create it, so everyone can see themselves in it. That’s when you inspire action.

NEW E-BOOK! – The Ultimate Guide to Redesigning Your Website.