Corporate transformation begins with a dream. The best leaders have the capacity to dream big and reimagine what the organization is all about, what it sells, and how it does business-think Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Jack Welsh.
Just as important as the dream, however, is the message. The greatest leaders are able to present their vision in an engaging and compelling way. They inspire their personnel to pursue greatness by articulating their vision in such a manner that staff members can visualize how great it will be to be part of an organization like the one imagined by their leader.
As a consequence, if we want to be great leaders, we must challenge ourselves to craft visions so compelling that they become the stuff of rallying cries. Here are some ideas about how to develop and share a compelling vision:
- Share the Vision as a Story: People like stories. It's how we learn. It's the way in which customs and traditions are passed on to the next generation. A story gives us a device that enables deeper understanding as compared with a vision statement, which can often leave you wanting for more.
- Communicate in Captivating Ways: People learn in different ways. Some learn by reading. Some learn by listening. Some need visuals to get the point. I've helped my clients share their vision stories in a variety of captivating ways, including:
- Customized Vision Magazines that present the vision story through a series of related articles;
- Vision Trade Shows where the management team delivers the vision story internally through a series of briefings presented at booths that staff members rotate through, complete with giveaways and grand prize drawings;
- Vision Storyboards that present the vision through a series of visual representations similar to a comic strip. These are often produced and distributed as "place mats" to staff members for easy reference.
All of which is intended to facilitate understanding by the staff and harness its commitment to the cause.
- Be Visibly Committed: Don't just stand there! Your team is watching you. Walk around and strike up a conversation about the company vision with random staff members. As the word gets out that you do this sort of thing, these short conversations can go a long way toward promoting engagement and inspiring unity among personnel.
- Promote Collaboration: A collaborative work environment can inspire the enthusiasm necessary to compel an organization toward vision achievement. We must begin to recognize and celebrate collaborative behavior and seek to stomp out selfish and egocentric conduct, because that can undermine leadership and sabotage the change effort.
Indeed, leadership is gained by first dreaming a dream and sharing it with the troops in the trenches. It takes deliberate effort to enable every employee to understand the vision and to feel a sense of sharing in its common purpose. However, when that is achieved, great things begin to happen. People begin to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. They start to row in the same direction, because they share a strong sense of being in it together. They transform to help their organization achieve the dream. Strive to compel and you can make good things happen, too.
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