According to the Harvard Business Review the most effective leaders build an inspirational and compelling shared vision of the future for their teams. The evidence is clear that a sense of common purpose (i.e., vision) can improve employee engagement, performance, as well as recruitment and retention. Now for the elephant in the room – if we know these things about vision, why do so few leaders communicate their vision? I recently polled attendees in my leader development classes and less than 20% could identify the vision for their team. As we discussed this topic further I realized leaders recognize the importance of vision, but they just don’t know how to create one. So here goes!
The following questions can help guide the development of a compelling vision.
Q1. Why does our team exist and why is it important? The keyword in this question is WHY – every leader knows WHAT their team does, but it’s harder to articulate WHY they do it. Watch this video by Simon Sinek to better understand the importance of starting with WHY.
Q2. Over the long-term (5-10 years), what do we hope to accomplish? What difference do we want to make? When answering these questions think about your team in the future, if they are consistently fulfilling their purpose with excellence, what images do you see? What ideas come to mind? Once you have that image in your mind – the next question becomes: what are the stories I might tell around those ideas and images that explain my vision?
Q3. What are two goals my team has for the next year? These goals are the action steps the team needs to take over the next 6-12 months to help accomplish the longer-term vision. Answering this question helps a leader align the team with the vision and can help guide the communication of expectations.
So, if you followed me, you should now realize creating a compelling vision requires an appeal to the better angels of our nature (Q1), is part storytelling (Q2), and involves some strategic thinking (Q3). In more practical terms, answering these questions can help you identify the purpose/mission of your team (Q1), the team vision (Q2), and team goals (Q3). I hope this was helpful as you try to clearly define where your team is going and how they are going to get there.