Successful leaders know the importance of creating a strong shared vision for their teams. A compelling vision enables the leader to anticipate an exciting future. And, when confidently communicated to the team, an inspiring vision provides a rallying cry that energizes everyone to accomplish big things.
If you need to motivate your team, here are four steps to help you to formulate a shared vision that will both inspire them, and get real-world results.
Step #1: Be Clear About Your Desired Destination
The first step in creating a solid shared vision is to be clear about what you hope to achieve. Remember, your vision is your destination. The strategy that you follow to reach it is your journey. It’s important not to confuse the two.
According to British/American author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek
“Vision is a destination — a fixed point to which we focus all effort. Strategy is a route — an adaptable path to get us where we want to go.”
It makes common sense that the clearer you are about where you’re going, the easier it will be to galvanize your team to work towards it. A clear vision will also help your people to determine their own departmental objectives and to collaborate with others, as they will know that they’re all working towards the same goal.
When people of similar interests come together and share a common vision, the collective energy automatically shoots up. There is a sense of realcommitment. And, with focus on the shared vision, success means the same for everyone involved.
A good example of this is Google, whose organizational vision is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” Although they have expanded their business into different areas, Google’s vision has become so much of a reality that their company name has become a verb that is synonymous with searching for information. This is the power of a strong vision.
Without clarity, your team will become unproductive and inefficient. With a clear destination, they can be focused and inspired.
Step #2: Dream Big
“Boldness has genius, and magic and power in it.”
For people to be truly inspired, the vision needs to be big. It needs to be something that seems challenging, so that it will call your team to draw on their best selves to be able to achieve it.
Consider some of these vision statements:
Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Disney: To Make People Happy
Cold Stone Creamery: The ultimate ice cream experience.
Microsoft: Empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device.
These vision statements set the bar high, and appropriately so.
People want to be inspired to accomplish great things. It’s why we enjoy the story arc of movies in which teams come together to win the championship against all odds. We like to see others performing at their best, and most of us also aspire to fulfill our own potential, in order to achieve something big.
Would aiming for third place be as compelling? Of course not!
Step #3: Communicate a Strong Purpose
The driving force behind your shared vision is your purpose. When you know and understand the “why”, you’ll be more motivated to focus on the “how.” As Henry David Thoreau wrote,
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
Unless and until you instill a sense of purpose in your team, you will have a hard time truly getting the best performance from them.
Now, the question is, what is the most effective way to communicate your purpose?
If you try to define it according to your own point of view, you’ll likely experience limited success. In fact, a McKinsey study found that people vary widely in terms of what is meaningful to them. Thus, if you only convey a purpose that is meaningful to you, there’s a good chance that you’ll leave the majority of your team uninspired.
Therefore, the aforementioned study recommended that best approach is to try to touch on multiple senses of purpose as you are rolling out your vision. In addition to the typical “good-to-great” story that many managers rely on (i.e. “We are doing well now, but we want to be excellent”), you can also touch on the positive effects that accomplishing the vision will have on the individual, the team, your customers, and society as a whole.
By communicating multiple purposes, you’ll increase the odds that each member of your team will be equally inspired by the grand vision.
Step #4: Set Strategic Goals
Once you have settled on a shared vision, the next step is to set strategic goals. Remember, the vision is the destination, and the strategy helps to determine the path to get there. Thus, a clear strategy helps to bring a sense of practicality to the lofty vision, so that it seems attainable.
With every objective that your team accomplishes, they will feel that they have achieved a win or milestone on the way to the bigger goal. In turn, this reinforcement will help them to stay motivated, as they will gain greater confidence and self-efficacy that they can indeed pull off the vision.
When set correctly, your goals should be both measurable and specific. That way, there will be absolutely no ambiguity about whether or not your team is hitting them. And, that will give them important information about how they are progressing with respect to the vision.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you are setting goals and tracking progress relative to them:
Make sure the goals are aligned with the vision. If you notice your team straying away from your main vision when setting goals, then bring them back to the vision.
Remind your team about the vision on a regular basis. You should be communicating it so often that everyone knows it by heart. For the vision to be useful, people have to actually know it!
Have your team members break down the larger goals goals into smaller time-limited objectives (and provide help, if needed). This will help to keep them on task, and moving forward appropriately.
Create systems that enable everyone to keep track of your goals and progress. This contributes to a sense of accountability around the goals that have been set.
Let’s face it, being a great leader can be challenging. After all, your task is to motivate people to collaborate to get things done, despite their differences and external obstacles. Taking the time to develop a compelling shared vision will play a vital role in getting your team “rowing in the same direction” so that they can focus on common goals, and work together to accomplish them.
French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote,
“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Get your people to buy in to a bold vision, and see the magic that results.
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