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Lead by Vision

“Daddy, daddy!” the boy runs into the kitchen towards his father. “Yes John, what is it?” his daddy replied. The boy continued, “I heard from mommy that we are maybe going to Rhodes”. “Yes, that it true” his daddy said. “Weheee! Tell me about Rhodes daddy, tell me, tell me! How does it look like and what are we going to do there”.

His father started to tell him about what it looked like: “We can walk up on the mountain and look at an ancient building and a lot of wonderful white houses around. The white house’s skimmer in the sun and looks beautiful towards the blue ocean and the blue sky”. He continued to say to John and by this time, John had large eyes and a half open mouth that they also shall swim in the warm water. “You know John, the water is so blue and you can see all the way to the bottom. You and I will go snorkeling and you can hold my hand. We will see beautiful fishes in many different colors swimming underneath us. We will eat ice cream on beach and build a large sand castle.” John’s eyes sparkled with the vision his daddy just gave him.

If you are a leader and have a formal position in your organization, preferable a process leader or a project leader, the best thing you can do is to lead by vision and strategies. There are so many books and articles about visions and strategies, but many businesses are still run without either.

When you start with a vision, it isn’t necessary to create one.  Actually it’s the opposite, and it could be fairly simple. You do not need to write a 50 pages document describing it either. The hard thing might be to know where you want to go. Many people live their lives from day-to-day, without any larger thoughts about what they want to accomplish. Studies show that only four percent of the population has written down what they want to accomplish.  That mentality is then taken into the business life, where an organization is just moving along the line of time. Things are pretty comfortable as long as they just deliver some result that makes the business sustainable, meaning they can go on for a while longer.

But if you want to improve and develop the business, and yourself, then you need a vision. A vision is like a beacon shining in the night. It is going to help us travel in our business in the right direction. Even if we are changing course due to current conditions, we need see and understand where the ultimate destination is. If you change course without a having a vision, then you are merely changing course. If you change course with a vision in your business, then you have a deviation from a preferable course and then you know that you need to act in order to get back on the right course to get closer to your vision.

The vision will describe for you where you are heading. It does not give you exact description of when to be there, because then it is closer to a goal. The vision is better of if it is described in a way that gives a good feeling of those that are a part of the journey. It should give them a nice feeling in their stomach, a feeling of really looking forward to being a part of the journey and in the future be in that wonderful place that the vision describes. Just like John’s daddy gave John. He was all warm inside and just dreamt about Rhodes, the white houses, the warm water, the colorful fishes, the sand castle and the big ice cream.

How do you create the vision then? It depends on your relationship to the part that you are creating the vision for. If you are an entrepreneur that starts up your business, it is easy to understand that the vision is created in your head, and yours to communicate to people joining the business along the way. But if you are a manager of a large organization that you do not own, it is important to find out what the owners of the company want with the business. The board is those that have the responsibility to work on the vision and to communicate it to the organization. The same goes for a public organization, but the board then contains politicians that are to create a vision that is in alignment with the people’s wish.

You can of course create a vision for a part of the business; for a process, a project, a department, or a unit. Then it is important to not making a one-man-show. First you need to understand the vision of the whole business then you and your team can create your own vision. If you involve the team in the creation, you will increase thousand-fold the understanding and buying in on the vision.

A vision needs to be communicated to the team, and it needs to be repeated, over and over again. Studies shows that people that are bearer of a vision, under-communicate it by a factor of ten, compared to the need of the rest of the team to hear it. The reason is that the vision is could be so clear for you as a leader and you then assume that the rest of the team has the same understanding. That is a false assumption. You need to talk about the vision, make it easy to digest, publish it in your office, and the talk about some more.  

My suggestion to you then is to take the first step of making sure that you have a clear, feeling-good vision, and then to constantly talk about it. Your success depends on it!

To you and your business excellence,