Human history is built on envisioning the future. Many of us dream of a better tomorrow; effective leaders are those who create a roadmap to get there… but it’s not a path they walk alone.
Whether in business, politics, or everyday life, deciding where you need to be is just the beginning. You then need to galvanise others to join your journey.
In the Leadership Challenge, this is called Inspiring a Shared Vision. It’s one of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, a foundation of how we at Quest operate. Read on, and learn how to make it happen for your organisation.
Envisioning the future
Who do you think of when you picture a visionary leader? Odds are it isn’t a dreamer, but someone who made their vision a tangible reality. Vision is vital to leadership, but an achievable vision separates Alexander the Great from Captain Ahab.
Picturing this achievable goal can be done using a straightforward past, present, future model:
- What past events shaped your perception of what success looks like? Are they still relevant, valid, and useful? If not, might your idea of success be due an update?
- What’s going on right now? What influences are acting on you and your team? What are the big topics of conversation?
- Look ahead. Knowing what you know about the patterns your industry tends to follow, and the current trends, what outcomes can you extrapolate? Can you predict any opportunities which might arise?
Having decided on a desirable likely future, move with purpose and convey your desire to get there.
Humans being human, they’re less than totally likely to hop on board with your bright idea without something in it for them. To that end, engaging others with your vision actually begins with listening to them to understand what their ideal futures look like.
From there, decide where your vision intersects with that of your team. Create space for them to find their purpose en route to fulfilling yours. Far from being a distraction or a hindrance, this approach provides an extra point of reference, another star by which to sail.
This becomes vital in times of rapid change, letting you navigate short-term challenges without losing sight of long-term goals.
So, with a clear picture of what the future should be, and a few stop-offs on the way for your team to benefit, it’s time to move towards the goal together.
Because you took the time to understand what your team want to get from the journey, you’ll have some common ideals to appeal to. Through your words and actions, reinforce these ideals to encourage your team to believe in something greater than themselves.
However, be mindful that everyone moves at a different pace. Leave some wiggle room for them to grow as individual; appeal to what’s important and don’t sweat the little differences.
This becomes easier the more you become able to animate your vision. Symbolism and myth predicate the narrative tradition at the root of society; worry more about being too literal as a leader than about being too abstract.
Paint your team a picture of the future. What does success look, sound, feel, smell, even taste like? Encourage people to imagine themselves already there, and be quick to embrace emotion. Visceral responses are more memorable and inspiring than simple data.
When times are hard, it’s down to you as an exemplary leader to keep hope alive. This becomes easier when you promote the virtues of positivity and resilience within the team at all times.
Above all else, believe in what you’re saying. A leader who truly stands for every word they come out with can drive people to incredible achievements.
Quest can help unlock the visionary leader in you and your team.
Ready to get started? Book a call today and let’s discuss your needs.