Leadership and vision
It’s often said that what really sets a leader apart from a manager is vision. As leaders we need to be able to formulate a clear vision of the future and then communicate that vision in a way that inspires others to help make that vision a reality.
Not an easy task. But a vital one.
Without galvanising the support and energy of your team it’s unlikely your vision will ever become a reality. So as leaders how do we go about developing a compelling vision and communicating it for maximum results? Here’s our seven step plan:
Before you even begin to communicate, spend time reflecting on your vision. Listen to your team, your manager (if you have one), what’s going on in your industry, wider trends and so on. Observe actions and interactions and ask lots of questions. Involve key members of your team and your trusted advisors as you test out your emerging vision. Write down your ideas and then sleep on them. Does your vision inspire you? Does it give you energy? If it doesn’t, then it isn’t going to inspire anyone else either.
Is it relevant
Consider how relevant your vision is. You might need more than one vision, for example an overarching organisational or team vision with supporting visions for specific projects. The vision needs to be relevant to your team – will other people be able to understand their role in the vision and what’s in it for them? And don’t forget to use feedback to shape your vision where ever possible, after all, people buy into decisions they are allowed to weigh into.
Be the signpost
A vision needs to set out the end state. When things get tough your team will need to be able to turn to the vision to help them stay on track. Be clear about what the future looks, sounds, and feels like. Using all the senses will help bring the vision to life. Make it clear what people will think, feel, know and do at milestones along the way so that people will recognise when they are there.
And don’t forget to walk the talk. You’ll need to lead by example because if your actions aren’t congruent with your words, your team will soon loose trust in you and the vision.
Tell the story
Story telling is one of the universal human traits. We find it much easier to remember information given to us in the form of a story and is a useful tool we can employ as leaders. Use stories to illustrate your vision and bring it to life for people.
For a vision to be compelling it needs to be exciting and inspiring. Now is the time to dream big. If the vision is too small, people will struggle to find the energy and drive to get involved.
Keep it simple
A vision needs to be simple and unambiguous. People need to understand exactly what it is they are working for. Keep your vision short and distil it down into a series of key messages. Think about the old idea of an elevator pitch; can you clearly explain your vision in less than a minute?
Communicating your vision is not a one-time event. You will need to repeat it often and in various formats, including meetings, written materials and one to ones. Keep reminding people what they are working towards and let them know if they are on track.
I’d love to hear your tips. Let us know what you think in the comments.