Everyone agrees that strategic vision is crucial to leadership, but there are lots of different ideas about what that means. Vision can be different depending on the level of leadership, but in short, it’s the ability to “see” into the future, forecast what’s needed between now and then, and understand the impact of different decisions.
Because it’s tied so strongly to planning and strategy, Vision is one of the five skills that make every leader better (Compassion, Curiosity, Communication, Vision, and Resilience).
The range and scope of the vision that’s needed as a leader largely depends on the type of role you have. If you’re a CEO, you need to be able to imagine out far into the future to see competitive threats, opportunities, shifts in your customer base, and how all of this could impact your enterprise (and how you want your enterprise to impact all of the above).
If you’re a first-line supervisor, the scope of your vision may not require you to think out as far into the future, or to understand impacts beyond the organization you work for. However, you do need to have a great sense of how the work your team does impacts others, as well as how other teams’ work impacts your team.
You also need to be able to describe your vision to others, involve your team in shaping and defining that vision, and use your vision to anticipate and embrace change.True Leaders describe their vision, involve their teams in shaping their vision, and use vision to anticipate change. Click To Tweet
Describe Your Vision to Others
Describing your vision requires that you know where you’re going, you’re committed to your vision (but open to change!), and you use your great Communications skills to help your team see the things that you see. And why you see them that way.
You have different information than your team does, which will almost inevitably be at a higher strategic level than the information they have. You should be able to see connections to the bigger organization and between departments more clearly than your team, who doesn’t attend the same meetings or receive the same communications as you do.
With all of this information, you owe it to your team to share — they’ll make better decisions, which will bring better results.
Involve Your Team in Your Vision
So, great! You’ve shared your vision with your team. The next part can be a challenge — let your team help figure out how to execute it. The good news is that, as a leader, you shouldn’t be solely responsible for this work; the bad news (at least for control freaks) is that you shouldn’t be solely responsible for this work.
Invite your team to join you in vision & strategy work. It’s up to you to figure out how complete your vision is before involving your team. But regardless of the stage they join, at a minimum, listen to their suggestions (and modify your vision where it make sense), and work collaboratively with the team to set interim goals. If your team is very senior, maybe they help shape the whole strategic vision and bring the plans & tactics for how to deliver it back to you for feedback.
Regardless of how you do it, sharing your vision is a fantastic place for collaboration.
Use Vision to Anticipate Change
The only constant is change. And change is great — it’s a sign of adaptation, evolution, and innovation. As a visionary leader, you should be in a place to see major shifts in your team or group coming from farther away than your team can.
There will be changes that come from above you (in an organizational sense), that you’ll be called on to execute and perhaps design. There will also be changes that you and your team identify as being critical to continuous improvement.
As a leader, you’re uniquely positioned to help your team through change, whether it comes from outside or inside of your team.
Developing your knowledge and ability in change and transition management will serve you well. There are lots of great sources for learning more about change management, and if you’re not familiar with them, I encourage you to read up.
At a minimum, you should be able to figure out how your team is adopting and adapting to the change in front of them and what you can do to help them through the change process.
What’s worked for you in sharing your Vision? Share it in the comments below!
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