All leaders are responsible for vision.
Every person is a genius looking backward. In that regard, we all have perfect 20/20 vision. A large part of the value leaders bring is how well they can look forward and then communicate what they see for the organization to all involved. It’s a simple question, but not always are the answers simple. The question is:
Where are we going?
The organization you are a part of will go in one of two directions. In one direction which you have chosen and been the guiding force into. The other direction is one you didn’t intend and regret you visited.
All effective leaders must be catalysts between where the organization has been, where it is now and where it is going in the future. Your vision should be a clear, realistic picture of what your organization can become. The vision should also be reflective of the group’s values. If any vision is to be realized, it takes everyone in a congruent effort both in understanding and in action to get there. Many leaders typically frame a mission statement and place on a few walls where it gathers dust and perhaps gets shared when an employee first begins with an organization, and then is never mentioned or referenced again.
Casting an effective vision is just the opposite. It must be like oxygen to the body. It must be constantly breathed into people in order to re-vitalize people to continue to put forth a worthy effort to actualize the vision and make it a reality. I’m certainly not saying you must cover every detail in minutiae, but rather in consistently casting a vision, the leader must stay at the 50,000 foot level. There is a time for tactical ground discussion, but in keeping the vision alive, leaders must stay high-level.
Some tips for vision casting:
1. Be Clear and Get Loud
You need to have details, but as I mentioned, don’t get down in them when broadcasting your vision for the group. You need to establish the vision and why it is important to actualize it. Make sure your intentions are strong, very clear and deliberate. Vary your modes and methods of communicating the vision. Take time to map out a clear communications strategy for your internal purposes.
2. Get Plenty of People Involved
Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Once you have a clear picture of what you want to communicate, give a few others the chance to hear it and give you thoughts on it. They can help you shape the process and be part of developing the message. They may have better ideas of how to saturate the rest of your troops than you can see alone.
3. Make Sure It Means Something
Employees and volunteers today need meaning and purpose in what they are fighting to achieve. It is your job to give the vision meaning and purpose. Without it, you will have a slim chance of getting people to live it and breathe it with you.
Your vision, simply by the sheer size, should be a big vision. Reference Jim Collins’ famous BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) from Built to Last. However, even though the vision has to be big, it must have somewhat of a personal tough to it, so everyone can make it their own. You must make sure that every person in your company feels like they can or have contributed to achieving the vision when you get there. If you can do this, you will increase your organization’s productivity and efficiency by a multiple factor.
5. You Must Maintain Resiliency
Setbacks and adversity is bound to happen. Very rarely will anyone go directly from point A to point B. There will be twists and turns along the way. This is why vision casting is so very important. It is all leaders’ responsibility to keep the vision front, center, living and breathing for every person involved. You must keep the goals in sight. Make sure you cause everyone to evaluate how their individual contribution is either moving you toward or moving you away from actualizing the vision. You must be the catalyst which cause constant re-evaluation of whether or not you and the organization is on-track or off-track.