It is easy to think that having a vision is only for those who are at the top of the organization; for presidents and other grand chief Poobahs, but the truth is that no matter how high (or low) you are on the echelon of leadership, being able to establish where you are going and then sharing it with others in such a way that they understand and can commit to it, is a critical step in getting there happily and productively.
So here’s my thinking on how to do that.
1. Find out what’s going on around you.
If you want the direction you establish to have some relevance, a good first step is to find out for yourself what’s happening in the rest of your organization, in your marketplace, and even in the world. For instance, if you are responsible for the work of a group within a larger organization, ensure that you understand what it is focused on achieving. What business are you in? Why are you in this business? What does success mean to your organization? If you are in business for yourself, these are still very good questions to ask and to answer before you even begin to communicate with others.
2. Write it down
Yes, write down what you know, see, and believe, about your current situation. Then write down what you want to know, see, and have, in your future and the future of your business or work group.
3. Be honest & make sure you can stand behind the words.
When you have the words, make sure you believe them. If you write something down because it sounds good, fancy or like something you ought to be saying then it will lack authenticity. In short it will be hard to “sell”; even harder to engage others in; and harder still to be any use as a tool for gauging your progress.
4. Live with it for a while
Once on paper, let it rest in your mind for a day or two. Let the words come in and out of your thoughts. At the risk of being accused of talking to yourself, let the words come to your lips. Test them out. Make sure they feel good and real to you. Do this, until you can say with some confidence, “Yes, that is just where we need to go”.
5. Enroll others in it
There’s no point in having a vision for your company or department if the people who work for you either don’t understand what you are trying to achieve or aren’t really willing to follow you there. To establish direction and enroll others in it, you must
- Communicate it with confidence & enthusiasm
- Show your group or company how their skills and talents might be used to accomplish the work that will be needed to get you there.
- Help them to see some meaning for them in the direction you are taking them. Give them a chance to ask questions, add their thoughts and express their concerns. If some new information comes out of this exchange that makes sense you can always modify your vision accordingly. It is not a sacred stone tablet after all and with general agreement, the work will go a lot more smoothly.
So, that’s it…well a beginning anyway. Of course Establishing Direction involves more than having a vision. But it is a great place to start.
Some questions to consider
What is your business striving to become? What compels you to move in that direction?
What do you need to get clearer about? What’s missing?
If you want to know more here’s Something to Read: