Inspiring Commitment to a Shared Future
We all love the stories of the great visionary leaders who forge their way against all odds into a future no one else thought possible. Some people are gifted that way. If that’s you, use that gifting well! Be warned there are pitfalls you’ll need to navigate to avoid being one of the many visionaries who never achieve their vision. While some highly driven visionaries accomplish amazing things, many leave a trail of abused and broken people in their wake. Our goal as leaders is to achieve a future vision AND enable those we lead to reach their full potential. The primary measure of our success as leaders is the success of those we lead.
But what if you’re a leader who lacks that visionary gift? You still have the responsibility to inspire your followers to reach beyond themselves to achieve some as-yet-unrealized future state.
Curator of a Shared Vision
Fortunately, you don’t have to lock yourself in a room until you have an epiphany about the future. If you’ve been leading well, you’ve surrounded yourself with people who can help. Think of your role not as the creator of your vision, but rather the curator of a shared vision.
Like the curator of an art collection, your role is to leave no stone unturned looking for the right pieces to bring into the collection. You don’t have to create the artwork, you just need to recognize good work when you see it. Gathering all of the right pieces and determining which ones to display and how they should fit together is where your role begins.
Curating a vision requires you to be a good listener, especially to those who are hands-on in the process of bringing the vision to life. If the people you work with are primary sources of the ideas that go into the shared vision, you have one advantage over the visionary. Those whose ideas you’ve incorporated will have a vested sense of ownership in the success of that vision. The vision they’re committed to fulfilling is partly their own, not just someone else’s.
The odds of finding quality ideas increase with quantity. Start by collecting as many ideas as you can, not just looking for one great one. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the value of a piece isn’t always visible until it’s connected to others.
Communicator of the Shared Vision
Regardless of whether you’re the creator or the curator of the vision, how you repeatedly communicate the vision is a make-or-break factor in its success.
For the vision to inspire loyalty and commitment, it needs to paint a clear picture of the desired future. Vision is, after all, a very visual word. Like the art collection, it inspires an emotional as well as an intellectual commitment.
Once established, the core vision needs to remain constant. But to keep the energy alive you’ll need to be constantly finding new stories that communicate more detail and bring more clarity to the vision.
The Power of “Shared”
A good personal vision is powerful. A good shared vision is almost unstoppable.
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