In my experience, thinking about how to lead and inspire a shared vision is not something that we remind ourselves to do every day. I believe that is wrong.
I love the tough quote from Helen Keller: “The most pathetic person in the world is the one with sight but no vision” That quote always causes me to stop in my tracks.
Inspiring a shared vision is a fundamental requirement of a leader. Now, in truth, no one is really going to argue against that statement. But, how many of us live it? Do we always recognise the importance of a shared vision, or is it something we get around to doing something about when we have some free time?
I am absolutely convinced that not enough time is given to developing a vision, let alone leading and inspiring it!
And focused time is what must be devoted to this exercise.
I am reminded of a conversation I had recently with someone who accused me of being overly critical of them and their business when they were unable to articulate their vision. The argument was – “we know our objectives and our goals – surely that is enough!!”
The point I was making, and believe passionately in, is that the vision gives you the context for everything – including your objectives and goals. Without the vision, how do you know if you have decided upon the right goals and objectives?
Consider the quote from the futurist American writer, Alvin Toffler who said: “You’ve got to think about big things when doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
In this case the “big thing” is the vision! Without sight of the big thing, we are just busy fools!
As I said earlier, we must dedicate time to creating the vision, then even more time sharing that vision with your people. I use the word “sharing” purposefully – it is not about “telling” them, it is about engaging with them so that they share in the vision and they see which piece of that jigsaw they own, without which it is not complete.
Until you have succeeded in getting your people to share in the vision, when it becomes their vision too, then you have inspired nothing or nobody.
You must help your people to see the vision in their minds, and to see their part in it.
Remember what Winston Churchill said: “The empires of the future are empires of the mind.”
Spend time creating that vision in your own mind and then in the mind of those you lead. Help them to see their role in that vision, so that it then becomes their vision. That is how to lead and inspire a shared vision.
When will you set time aside this week for creating and inspiring your vision? Too busy? Then cancel something – this is too important.