7 Steps to Developing and Sharing a Vision for Your Team

1. Make Your Message About Others

A vision should inherently and directly benefit the people meant to be lead by that vision. As leaders each of our visions should be about serving others. Whether it be stockholders, employees, or customers the people we sell our vision to should be the ones that benefit from that vision.

Sharing a goal of being the number one office in the nation, making it into the Fortune 500, or hitting some revenue or sales goal is not vision. That is just goal sharing and goal sharing does not inspire anyone. To inspire other people to take action those people must know that the actions they take directly:

  1. Improve their own situation personally, professionally, or financially. And in that order of importance.
  2. Improve the world for the better in some way so they are making a contribution to the greater good of mankind.
Photo by  Photographer No. 9
Photo by Photographer No. 9

2. Be Genuine

A vision should be something that is real and genuine. It is easy to make something up that sounds appealing to the audience, but a vision must also be something that its creator believe in and that the leaders of a team are willing to fight to help others achieve. The person who creates and shares a vision must be 100% bought in and fully committed to that vision.

3. Gain Absolute Clarity of Your Vision and Keep it Simple

Keep it simple. If there are multiple bullet points in a vision and it takes a paragraph or two to get a point across that is a vision that is going to resonate with an audience of one. That one person is usually the creator of that vision.  A mission statement is one sentence for a reason. Develop a vision and spend enough time perfecting it that it is simple. If a message is simple it already has a great chance of sticking with the audience.

Perfecting a vision is not just about making it simple. It’s about constantly reworking it until it communicates exactly what you want. It’s important that we know what the destination is before we start moving people in a direction. Don’t just move people for the sake of moving them and don’t be afraid to change directions as the vision evolves.

4. Sell Your Key Influencers Ahead Of Time

All of the influencers on a team must be on-board with a vision before it is shared.  This isn’t just true with large sweeping visions for the future it is also true for small scale day-to-day activities where we want a large amount of participation from our teams. The influencers on a team should be approving of and committing to every aspect of a vision before it is made public. 

I’ve made huge mistakes in presenting new ideas, methods, or activities that I wanted my team to engage in without getting buy-in ahead of time from the leaders on my team.  Maybe you have experienced this as well.  If you’ve ever thought that someone else on the team said something that derailed others from following through with your idea maybe that could have been prevented by getting approval ahead of time from the people that have enough influence that they are capable of derailing an idea. Have a meeting before the larger group meeting with your top influencers to get their input and approval so that when they are talking to and influencing others on your team they back up your vision, i.e. the meeting before the meeting is essential so that the meeting after the meeting goes well.

5. Develop Your Message

There are key ingredients that cause a message to stick with people.  Thinking about these ingredients and fine tuning messages can keep a vision in an audiences head without constant contact reminding them of where you are heading together. Here are a few key elements as identified in Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die 

Unexpectedness - Will the message startle people? Will it alter their state and sometimes even get them standing up in their seats? Can you bring the energy when you deliver it because your message gets you excited? Don’t deliver a lame message to the people you want to influence. Make it exciting. Shock and awe a little bit.

Concreteness - Can you deliver your message in a way that communicates clear actions that should be taken? An ambiguous message or a message that is too abstract does not inspire anyone to do anything because they don’t know what to do. It’s possible to deliver a message that get’s people excited, but still leaves them with no idea what the next step is. Be precise about why your message is important, how you’re going to achieve your vision, and what you’re going to achieve.

Credibility - Your people must believe in you and your ability to deliver before they can believe in your message. Maybe before being a thought leader and a broad strokes kind of person ask yourself if you are delivering by leading by example, executing, hitting goals, being decisive, and producing results.  Production makes you a leader and an influencer and people respect leading by example above all else.

Emotions - Your message must make your people feel emotions cathartically, but it should also make you feel emotions every single time you deliver it no matter how many times you have given your message.  Facts and logic do not create action. Emotion creates action.

Stories - We live our lives through narrative and process ideas through narrative. Painting your vision is about telling a story not just explaining an idea. Stories are memorable because we experience them as though we are actually living them out.

Photo by @VectorCanada
Photo by @VectorCanada

6. Deliver Your Message and Deliver Your Message and Deliver Your Message

If a vision inspires and excites people and puts them on point with their own purpose then it would be an injustice to not constantly share that vision. Share the vision for the future in every conversation, at every meeting, in every presentation, within every pitch, and share it with everyone. Leave no question in anyone's mind where we are heading. Stay committed.

7. Fight For Your Vision

When someone on a team does something that is not in alignment with the vision and the values meant to help the team achieve that vision they need to know that it’s not ok. At the same time, when we make mistakes or have lapses in character and judgement that aren’t in alignment with our visions we need to admit publicly that we did wrong, explain why it was wrong, and recommit.  We don’t just need to be harder on ourselves than we are on your people we need to be much much harder. Never embarrass anyone in public or publicly criticize anyone, but have relationships with people that are deep enough that they can be told when they did something that is not in alignment with the vision for the team and have them understand that they’re being told because it is what is best for them. Everything worth having in life must be fought for and bringing any worthwhile vision from an idea to a reality will be a hard fight as well. If a vision is meaningful enough then it isn’t worth letting a single person get in the way. 

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