What does the family who goes on the vacation of a lifetime have in common with the company that consistently exceeds its marketing goals? On the surface…nothing. But when you look deeper, in each case you’ll see a leader who knows how to inspire a shared vision. If you want to make a difference, this is an essential skill you’ll want to master. Let’s take a closer look at each story…
Within the family, the mother sees that the kids will soon be leaving for college. She knows that once they’re out of the house, they may get so busy with their own lives they might not have another chance. So she shares her vision of a great family vacation with her husband. He agrees and together they work out how to make it happen. As the family discusses it, they excitedly pitch in their ideas. Because they’re on the same page, working toward the same goal, it’s not a hardship to stick to a budget or schedule. Their shared vision becomes a success.
In the business setting, the marketing department brings a new strategy to the boss, and she thinks it’s a great idea. She takes that visionary thought and lays out a plan to her employees. She details the vision to them and gets them excited to do their individual and collective best. She knows it won’t happen unless all departments are on board with the idea. And because she connects with each one on the level of their specialty, each department excels.
On the other hand, perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of working with someone who tries to lead but keeps the details to themselves. You don’t know why something is important and you don’t understand the process because you don’t know all the steps. As a result, the “vision” never succeeds, because you couldn’t clearly see your role in it.
In any case, progress won’t happen by chance. Inspiring leaders acknowledge and welcome the strengths of each person and create an environment were talents can flourish. They give a clear objective so people know what to do. They give a clear reason why it’s important, so everyone remains motivated to get it done. It’s not enough for the leader to have a vision. An effective leader inspires others by knowing how to share the vision so that it takes on life in the hearts of all those involved. They can see themselves in the picture!
First-class leaders learn to look far into the future, not merely seeing the end of a current project. Instead they see how each project impacts their organization years down the road. In the above example, the mother saw her family slipping away, so she took action to bring them back together. The far-sighted boss saw how one marketing campaign would boost morale and generate customer loyalty. Because they took into account the hopes and wishes of others, those involved became very supportive.
Effective leaders see that it’s important to make time to look ahead and not get consumed with day-to-day busyness. They also don’t feel that they have to be the visionary. But they know that it’s their job to get everyone involved and keep them working at the top of their game.
It’s not always easy to communicate your vision in a way that draws others into it so that they adopt it for their own vision. However, it’s easier if you incorporate metaphors, word pictures, and stories that people relate to. Don’t be afraid to express the depth of your emotional involvement and excitement, because it’s that passion that will fire up others.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to inspire others for a future project is to connect with them mindfully in the present. If you’d like to learn to inspire others and make more meaning connections in your life, please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my close friend Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. It’s going to be life-changing!