Shared Vision

by  Mike Henry  |  Leadership Development

Shared vision takes time.

First you must appreciate other contributors.  Shared means shared.  If you supply the team vision, others must adopt it.  You can’t pick the level of effort needed for them to adopt your vision. You don’t decide how hard or easy it will be to get them to fully share and appreciate your vision of the future.  Each person influences the level of difficulty you’ll encounter as you try to get buy in for “your” vision.

Choose to Understand Your Team

However, you can choose to understand your team first before “setting” the vision.  This solves two problems.  First, you determine the amount of effort you will invest in understanding your team.   Second, few people can (or will even try to) understand anyone who fails to understand them.  You will eliminate a major roadblock to being understood.  One of the popular Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”   Most people won’t understand you first.   Only highly effective people do that.  Understand your teammates and stakeholders and their vision of the future.  That one act will take you a long way to sharing understanding.

  • Do you appreciate your team enough to encourage and understand their vision of the future?
  • What would they like your team to be known for?
  • What do they appreciate most about your team and its contribution to the organization?
  • What do they feel is their greatest contribution?

Your vision of the future will be shared and appreciated more as you appreciate and understand your team’s view better.

The Vision is Set

When the vision is set, the game changes.  Until it’s set, you’re a collaborator helping the team agree on the best future and understand it in wonderful detail. Once the agreement has been reached, and the plan finalized, your role changes. In service to your team, you begin remember the vision and enforce the plan.  We’ll talk about that more in a future post. But to the degree that you’re able, invest in the work necessary to give stakeholders input into the vision.  The additional detail each member adds, as well as the shared ownership, will provide lift and energy propelling your team in the right direction.

Is this an area of opportunity for you? Do you build the consensus, or do you find yourself jumping ahead to the enforcer role too quickly? Or, do you spend too much time building consensus and never become the enforcer? Let us know how you’re doing in this area.

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Barry Werner  |  22 Dec 2009  |  Reply

This is excellent material. The theory is easier than the implementation but the end result is worth any amount of difficulty in the process. For the process to work your lead statement “First you must appreciate other contributors.” is absolutely true. I am assuming that the word “appreciate” encompasses respect. If the process is done right the team becomes self-enforcing, they keep the vision on track and the team focused on the vision and that makes a leader’s job much easier.

Mike Henry Sr.  |  23 Dec 2009  |  Reply

Barry, I appreciate how you added two clarifying items: 1) Yes, appreciate encompasses respect. And 2) it does become self-enforcing. The team, understanding each person’s role, helps hold one another accountable. Thanks for the comments.
.-= Mike Henry Sr.´s last blog ..Shared Vision =-.

Chrissann Ruehle  |  22 Dec 2009  |  Reply

Thanks, Mike, for sharing this article as it very insightful! As leaders, I think there is a natural tendency for us to jump in and immediately develop the vision ourselves. However, by taking a step back and working through this process of listening to our teams and collaborating on a vision, it helps to build a foundation of trust. Effective leadership is built on mutual trust and respect. Team members feel empowered and accountable when they are involved in creating a vision for the team. It is a delicate balance; moving from visioneer to project manager. It’s like anything else; it requires dedication, commitment and practice.

Thanks again for sharing this excellent information!

Best regards,

Mike Henry Sr.  |  23 Dec 2009  |  Reply

Chrissann, I appreciate your comment. This whole process does build trust. When we can collaborate with teammates and let them increase their contribution, it increases their trust. Mike…
.-= Mike Henry Sr.´s last blog ..Shared Vision =-.

Jane Perdue  |  23 Dec 2009  |  Reply

Mike — love how you stress the importance of first understanding, then taking action. Understanding the team, its work and its impact on the rest of the organization are foundational elements to successful outcomes. Good, good stuff!

Mike Henry Sr.  |  23 Dec 2009  |  Reply

Jane, thanks for the nice comment. As for understanding, wouldn’t we all be better off if we remembered that we aren’t the center of the universe. I know I constantly need that reminder. It helps me to focus on others and try to make sure I understand them before I attempt to be understood.


Jennifer  |  23 Dec 2009  |  Reply


One of the best (albeit way old) reference tools on this topic is The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge (and others). Published in 1994, I still refer to it and find it to be a useful tool. Your readers can find it on

Nice post!
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Sensible Shoes =-.

Mike Henry  |  23 Dec 2009  |  Reply

Thanks for the comment and the recommendation Jennifer. I appreciate the additional info.

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