Almost every leadership book you read will mention the importance of vision. In fact, it’s in my “Top 10” of most important leadership qualities. (I share why vision is so important to leadership here.)
A leader needs to have a personal vision. A vision for their leadership that transcends their job or current role. (If you don’t know your personal vision, learn how to discover it here.)
A leader also needs to have vision for their organization, department, and/or team.
Where many leadership books fail is when they don’t take the next step to tell you how to cast vision. It’s not enough to merely know your vision. You must be able to communicate both your personal vision and organizational vision. A vision not shared becomes a powerless dream.
So how do we communicate our vision in such a way that inspires the people around us?
Author and leadership guru, Andy Stanley, outlines two key steps to casting vision effectively.
The first step a leader must take after discovering her vision is to embrace it personally. What does this mean? It means that she embodies the vision and starts putting it into practice. She lives it out.
Many leaders make the mistake of communicating a vision that doesn’t match up with their lifestyle. There can be no duplicity between the vision and the leader’s personal life. They must be unified. If there is a difference, that’s called hypocrisy.
If your vision isn’t resonating with your team, the first question you must ask is “Is my life a living representation and ambassador of this vision?”
After embracing our vision personally, the next step is that we must proclaim it publicly. We have now earned the right to share our vision because our words will match our actions.
When it comes to communicating our vision publicly, there are three stages of communication.
- Individual Buy-in: If we are casting a new vision that could face some opposition, we must begin by getting individual buy-in through private conversations. You can do this in 1:1 or small group meetings. This is your opportunity to share your vision and answer any questions people may have. It also gives you an opportunity to practice sharing your vision so that you can articulate it as clearly as possible.
- Inspire First: After getting individual buy in, it’s time to share corporately. The mistake many leaders make is that they bury the lead. They focus most of their speech on the “how.” How are we going to accomplish this vision? Don’t get caught in the weeds. Your primary goal is to inspire your team. You need to explain the “why” of your vision. Why is this vision important? What impact will accomplishing this vision have on the company or team? People don’t care what you do until they know why you do it. As the title of Simon Sinek’s best selling book says, “Start with Why.”
- Repeat and Reward: Another mistake leaders make when proclaiming their vision publicly is that they communicate it once and then stop. The problem with this is that vision leaks. People get busy and forget. The day to day responsibilities of their job choke out vision. In order to make your vision stick, you must repeat it. There are two ways to do this:
- Share the vision regularly. This should be done weekly. The famous Ritz Carlton has gold standards of customer service. Each employee gets a small card with the standards printed on it and they are required to carry the card with them at all times. At the beginning of each department’s shift, they regularly go over the gold standards.
- Reward people whose behavior emulates the vision. Remember – “what gets rewarded gets repeated.” Reward those team members publicly and not only will they continue to put the vision into practice but it will spread to the rest of the team.
Think about the last time you had to cast vision. Maybe you were sharing a new initiative that your department or team was focusing on. Or maybe you were simply communicating your family values to your kids.
How did this vision casting session turn out? What could’ve been done differently?
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel A. Barker Click to tweet