Do you inspire a vision of the future that energizes, mobilizes and guides your organization? Would you objectively say your team is inspired or energized by the team’s goal, or by the time remaining until they get off work?
The third section of The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, is titled Inspire a Shared Vision. The sections of the book are the core principles of leadership:
- Model the Way
- Inspire a Shared Vision
- Challenge the Process
- Enable Others to Act
- Encourage the Heart
The authors share an important point in Chapter 5: “Leaders are expected to be forward looking, but they aren’t expected to impose their future of the vision on others.” (Model the way.) They go on to say, “[t]he very best leaders understand that their key task is inspiring a shared vision, not selling their own idiosyncratic view of the world.” (author’s italics) (Inspire a shared vision.)
However, Kouzes and Posner are quick to add, “There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.” (Enable others to act.)
A key factor in the success of your vision of the future is the degree of overlap in your vision and that of your team or stakeholders, as well as being able to articulate the vision successfully.
If you’re in charge of a team, or if you find yourself as an informal leader, sharpen and clarify your vision. What will the future look like. How will it be different when you achieve your goals. A clear vision will energize and pull your team. But maybe you’re not in charge. Are you a middle manager where the vision is something you received from above? Embellish the vision. To the degree you’re able provide detail. If you’re not clear, ask. Your job is to get your team what it needs to succeed. What more do they need than a clear vision of the end result? The more detail we can provide, the better we can identify and resolve differences and create a shared vision.