About 350 years ago, a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year, they established a town site. The next year, they elected a town government.
The third year, the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year, the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?
These were people who had the vision to see 3,000 miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years, they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision.
With a clear vision of what we can become, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.
Since most people have seen their share of visions from plenty of different leaders, set yourself apart by casting a high-definition vision. The challenge is that we tend to fall short of providing the level of clarity most people want and need so they can see the impact of their work. Leadership research supports this tendency toward a very low-definition vision. A groundbreaking Harris Poll found that:
- Only 15 percent of workers could identify their organization's most important goals.
- A majority of workers (51 percent) did not understand what they were supposed to do to help the organization achieve its goals.
- Less than half of available work time (49 percent) was spent on the organization's most important goals.
A clear vision answers these "Fundamental Four" questions being asked by your team, whether or not you hear them:
- What are we trying to achieve? (Goals)
- How are we going to achieve it? (Plans)
- How can I contribute? (Roles)
- What's in it for me? (Rewards)
The clarity of our answers to these questions is directly proportionate to the clarity of our vision. If you forget to answer any of these or just assume your team knows the answers, your vision will become a blur of disconnected mega pixels. You will have a team going in different directions or worse, not even wanting to venture a few steps into the forest.
A vision helps teams see where they are going and how they can help get there. People naturally feel more accountable for their performance when they clearly understand they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Take a moment to cast a high-definition vision. It will inspire your team to venture to new and exciting destinations with you!
1. Can my team clearly and consistently state the vision for our team?
2. Which of the "Fundamental Four" questions do I need to do a better job of answering for my team?