Leaders, Are you being Visionary?
All businesses and business leaders know that having a compelling vision is the foundation for a Company’s future. The vision is what can motivate the leaders and employees’ actions on a daily basis and leads to growing the Company. Here is my take on the subject – Crafting a vision should not be reserved just for Presidents and C-level Executives to complete at some off-site retreat. All leaders, no matter their level in an organization have the responsibility to craft a vision. Leadership at all levels should use a well-crafted vision that supports the organization’s vision to help guide their teams around daily work tasks and project completion. Combining the Organizational Vision and the Vision crafted in individual business units or project teams bring the Vision to life. So, what does it take for anyone in the organization to craft an effective vision for his/her team? Based on the Everything DiSC Work of Leaders research there are three main drivers to crafting an effective vision; Exploration, Boldness and Testing Assumptions. Leaders at all levels can learn to use these drivers to build a Vision that inspires and motivates. Learning to use these drivers will help leaders improve performance.
When all is said and done, a Vision seems so simple. In fact, some of the most successful organizational Visions are those that have the fewest words. For example, in the 1960’s, Nike Corporation’s vision was “Crush Adidas.” Pretty much says it all. Although a great vision often sounds simple and elegant, a good deal of effort and insight has likely gone into developing it. Project Leaders should develop a process to help see all the possibilities of the project. By looking at the business from the 30,000-foot level versus the ground floor, a leader can help their team see the broadest picture of the business. The biggest trap in crafting a Vision is succumbing to the urgency of completing the vision by choosing too quickly. Here are some tips:
- Make it part of the daily thought process as a leader to always look for new directions or ways to improve the business.
- Put the brakes on criticism and judgment of new or different ideas. Embrace diversity of thought on the team and get out of the “same old / same old” thinking.
- Take the time you need to craft a Vision that inspires you as the leader. If you are not excited about the vision, then keep on exploring.
A well-crafted vision is not always a game changer or market disruptor. Being bold is about going about things in a new or different way and having the intestinal fortitude to try new tactics or strategies. Pushing the outer edges and creating a slightly larger playing field can be what a team needs to move to the next level. Think Star Trek! Being bold is about challenging the team or department to take their performance to the next level even if that next level is a small step. String enough small steps together and before you know it you’ve made a huge leap.
- To make an impact take a chance and be adventurous.
- Activate your team to come up with bold ideas – see what success looks like.
A vital step in crafting a Vision is to get feedback and asking to be challenged. Not doing so may find you on the wrong end of the children’s story the “Emperor’s New Clothes”. Don’t get so committed to your “Vision” that you are deaf to the feedback. This is not to say all the feedback will need to be acted upon, but time should be taken to surface potential problems. Besides, asking for feedback and being willing to make adjustments is an excellent leadership trait and will get you more buy-in from the team when the vision is complete.
- As a leader, you have to get out of your own head and into the head of others by asking questions and testing the assumptions.
- There are going to be bumps along the road when creating a Vision, anticipate them and you can usually avoid them.
- Learn techniques to challenge the status quo. Businesses are far more successful if Visions are crafted at all levels. The days of the CEO having to drive the organization’s behavior through a Vision they developed is old business methodology. While the CEO may be responsible for the overall Vision, each leader within the organization needs to define a Vision for his/her group or project.
- Use the three drivers: exploration, boldness, testing assumptions to make it happen. The end result will be a more cohesive and productive team.
How do you think your business would benefit if leaders at all levels craft a vision for their projects?