Vision leaks. This is one of many leadership lessons Bill Hybels has taught me over the years. Tragically, many leaders miss this elemental truth. I guess the mistake is explainable, but not excusable. The logic goes something like this: Since the vision is still burning white hot in our spirit, we make the fatal assumption it is still vibrant in the hearts and minds of those we are attempting to lead. Wrong!
An unclear vision makes the leader’s work exponentially harder. So, how can you and I keep the vision top of mind for our organization? The answer is both simple and daunting:
Just like the discipline of daily vitamins strengthens our bodies, a daily dose of vision can strengthen our organizations. Here are a few ideas that may help.
Clarify. Are you crystal clear on your vision? One of my mentors always challenged me with this thought: If there is mist in the pulpit, there will be fog in the pews. Until the vision is clear to you as the leader, it CANNOT be clear to others. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. You cannot create that which you cannot envision – neither can you communicate it.
Simplify. Can you state your vision succinctly? One of my favorite Peter Drucker quotes is, “If you can’t print it (your vision) on a t-shirt, you don’t have it yet.” I understand your vision is probably grand, far-reaching and deep with meaning. Outstanding! How can you simplify it? Can it be represented in a word? A phrase? A Sentence?
Verify. Are you sure your key leaders know your vision? Do they use the same language (words and phrases) to describe it? If you embrace the challenge of communicating your vision daily, you will want to enroll your leadership in the effort. Cascading communications is a core competence in all high performance organizations. To cascade well, the message must be aligned. See my post: The Power of a 3×5 Card.
Audit. How often are you currently talking about the vision? Keep a record for a week. Every time you mention or illustrate the vision, make a note of it. You may decide to ask your key leaders to do the same. This will either heighten your awareness regarding the challenge ahead, or affirm your current actions. For most leaders, it will be a wake up call – the reason your organization is not talking about the vision… you are not talking about it.
Work. To make your vision an active part of your daily life and communications will require work! It will require thought, preparation and discipline. Here’s an activity for you to consider. On Sunday evening look at your calendar for the upcoming week. Consider every meeting and speaking engagement you will have over the course of the next five days. Pre-determine how you can legitimately link the work or the conversation to your vision. Commit in advance to use every opportunity to reinforce the vision. You may be surprised by the response.
When leaders talk about the vision, so do those we lead.[GLS_Shield]
How can you reinforce your vision TODAY?