MANY people mistakenly believe that any form of vision-setting should be the CEO’s responsibility. That is erroneous thinking and not only limits the growth of any leader, but also makes his career much less exciting.
All leaders in any organisation, community or team are able to effectively manifest their vision (that is, “see” what they want to be) as long as they create specific and achievable goals while initiating positive actions and enlisting the participation of all relevant team members.
Of course, to reap maximum synergy and motivation from his team, a leader’s vision should be congruent with that of the company.
However, there are a few questions that beg to be answered.
As a leader, how important is it to set a vision? How should leaders rally their team behind that vision? What is the role of the leader in communicating and bringing out that vision?
A visionary paints beautiful scenes of the future and articulates them with great enthusiasm.
A visionary leader, on the other hand, brings that vision into reality and, thereby, impacts the space others dwell in.
Even though he was asked to leave the company he helped build, Steve Jobs never threw away his vision of what Apple could be. Instead, he dug deep, persevered and returned to Apple as its leader, impacting the company even more in the process.
As leaders, how ready and enthusiastic are we to share a piece of our dream with our team? More importantly, how determined are we to see our vision bear fruit?
Successful leaders should also be able to get positive “buy-in” from their teams. Therefore, we should concentrate on the various aspects of the buy-in process and manage them accordingly to reach maximum leverage.
As a business leader, I have had to invest time and effort to secure “buy-in” from various stakeholders.
I have come to realise that just because two potential partners have similar visions, it does not necessarily guarantee “buy-in” because the two parties may have different goals, and vice-versa.
It is good for leaders to help their team members “see the big picture” and understand how their involvement will help the team reach goals and also result in the growth of each team member.
After all, leaders are dream makers who know that dreams are made from future probabilities and never from past liabilities. The more we nourish our teams with possible visions of what they can achieve, the more dynamic and motivated they will be.
Step-in and step-up
A successful “buy-in” process will often result in committed relationships within the team.
Engagement (step-in) is the primary product in all fruitful relationships. As leaders, we should steer our teams towards active participation and assimilate everyone into the culture of the company.
A healthy relationship between leaders and the rest of the team ultimately results in empowerment (step-up) of all involved. For empowerment to occur, constant feedback is needed. Gallup research conducted in 2009 shows that teams need constant feedback — not just yearly — from their leaders about how they are performing.
Effective leaders also need to receive feedback and to mentor their teams in a way that increases engagement and commitment.
For teams to be highly motivated, everyone should be speaking about the same vision. It is essential for information to be received and transmitted in a clear and accurate manner.
It is useful to remind ourselves that the success of the team only occurs when everybody wins.
Here are some handy reminders:
Always take into account your boss’s point of view
Focus on the solution rather than the problem
Communicate “upwards”; inspire “downwards”.
Many of us avoid the responsibility of visionary leadership primarily because we are too sensitive to criticism and failure. But all these fears may fade away when we realise the impact our vision has on the organisation.
As American poet Robert Frost once wrote:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”