It’s a timeless truth that bears repeating: Good leadership starts with a vision. Why? Because leadership is about going somewhere. If you don’t know where you’re going, your leadership doesn’t matter. Great leaders understand this and mobilize others by coalescing them around a shared vision.
A compelling vision will help you and your team get focused, stay energized, and achieve results. Your vision will also keep everyone going during times of adversity.
Can a Team or Department Create a Vision When a Company Doesn’t Have One?
Yes! Vision can start anywhere. You don’t have to wait for the rest of the organization.
Creating Your Team Vision
There are three aspects to a compelling vision: your purpose, your picture of the future, and your values. If you are a team leader, help your team create a team vision by working together to define and establish these three elements.
Purpose. To begin, start by asking, “What is our team’s reason for existence?” Your team’s purpose will answer this question.
When writing your team’s purpose, don’t simply describe your roles and activities. For example, if you’re in the automobile business, don’t say, “Our team exists to sell cars.” That purpose is hardly inspiring. Take a cue from Tesla, whose purpose isn’t simply to sell cars; it’s “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Notice how those words inspire excitement and commitment? An inspiring purpose makes work meaningful and fun. It also helps everyone stay the course when things get tough.
Picture of the Future. What is your team’s picture of the future? What do you want to be true in the future that is not true today? Picture the end result of your efforts.
Your team’s picture of the future should be something you can actually see when you close your eyes. Don’t define your picture of the future in vague terms, such as “being great.” Use precise words that bring an image to mind. Walt Disney’s picture of the future for his theme parks was to “keep the same smile on people’s faces when they leave the park as when they enter.”
As you and your team work together on your picture of the future, keep it positive. Focus on what you want to create, not what you want to get rid of.
Finally, don’t get bogged down in describing the process for getting to your envisioned future. Just focus on a visual image of the end result.
Values. Values are deeply held beliefs that certain qualities are desirable. They define what is right or fundamentally important to your team. They provide guidelines for decisions and actions.
What will be the core values by which your team operates? Here is a small sampling of some values you might consider: integrity, knowledge/expertise, accountability, success, relationships, kindness, humor, creativity, innovation, dependability, service to others. There are countless others.
To determine your team’s values, answer the question, “How will we behave on a day-to-day basis?” Then describe the behaviors that demonstrate what that value looks like when it is being lived.
Be careful not to select too many values. Zero in on a maximum of six. Also, your values must be rank ordered to be effective. Why? Because life is about value conflicts. When conflicts arise, people need to know which value gets the highest priority.
Once your team has agreed on the shared values, it’s up to you as the team leader to model these values in your behavior and to encourage the other team members to do the same.
A Worthwhile Investment
Teams with a shared vision work in harmony and generate positive energy that creates extraordinary results. These are the teams that others notice, admire, and emulate. If your team is working without a vision, take the time to create one. It’s an investment you won’t regret.
Editor’s Note: For a deeper discussion of vision and how it can focus and energize your team, read Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner.
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Leadership is all about visualization and mobilization.