Saturday, March 28, 2015

Three Practices to Sustain Vision

Leaders have to live and be the vision.

Vision is about zooming into the future as if it were closer. For forward-looking organizations, vision is a “must have” state of mind for top leaders because it decides whether you steer towards the right destination. But how do you sustain vision in practical everyday ways?

Articulate the vision: The vision needs to be a good metaphor - 'the guiding light' so that people can see themselves and their work reflected in it. For example, "how well will this goal contribute towards us achieving the vision of." With such clarity and detail, those others can see the same picture in their minds. Relate it in terms that align with each members level of education and capacity of understanding. First, start by identifying the core values of each individual vision, that would give you an indication of where they are coming from, then take those common values and translate them into strengths for the team. As a leader, you may not be able to include all visions into a single one, but you should get one that really unifies the most important ones for the team.

Share the vision: There is a keyword that is critical to always associate with the word, VISION, and that is SHARED. Leaders need to be constantly VISIBLE sharing VISION and enabling others to share it. To share is a fundamental part of any successful organization, group or team. We learn about it in a fundamental way as children, and then in adulthood, it gains a new context beyond the sharing of things, to sharing of information, self, and ideas. This can be vulnerable, but the more leaders share of themselves, and their commitment to a vision, the more alive it becomes. However, those in leadership roles can often get up in the rigor of business, as usual, they can neglect to reference the vision and keeping it alive.

Be the vision in action: Leaders have to live and be the vision. If a vision exists only on paper, it is useless. It follows the wonderful quote, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." The vision is every day that change is constant, there is always something to learn anytime, but one must be present at the place and at the right position to improve vision every daytime. Vision must be translated into personal behavior from leaders to the rest of the team, but also in business structure, to provide for coherence to the organization in order to build up confidence for all stakeholders involved. The executive is paid to translate the vision into work to be done by the team. However, more often than not, the executives leave strategy to the teams - a problem equally as disastrous; or executives think vision is what their job is all about and they think that somehow if they have a vision, magically it will become a reality by those under them. Also, the vision of the final goal has a tendency to change along the path in the minds of stakeholders. In projects, this is called, "scope creep." If the final vision is not constantly reaffirmed and restated based on the current condition, the single initial vision will diverge into multiple visions or expectations. Straying expectations must be noticed and recalibrated to maintain effective progress towards the end goal. The way to keep the vision fresh is to align each newly assigned task with its specific value and purpose towards the final vision. Then, the team member's mental picture of the goal line is refreshed and they can see the part they play in the overall success of the venture.

It is actually a good habit and practice of creating and sustaining the vision and applying it to focus and steer your organization. Vision is not just a statement, you have to sustain it in practical everyday ways.


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