An organisation’s vision will clearly and concisely articulate why the organisation exists. It is a statement of the organisation’s purpose and what it wants to accomplish into the future. The vision should be aspirational and inspirational and be clearly understood by all staff, board members and other key stakeholders including customers. As leaders, we know that a well-defined vision can be motivational and provide the guidance our people need during those tough times. Research has also proven that when team members are involved in the decision making process they become more engaged and accountable for their actions.
Despite all of the above, there are still some leaders (and organisations) who think that the creation of the vision, mission and strategy is the responsibility of the senior leaders alone. Yet there is a view that really effective leaders seek to involve their teams in the development of the organisation’s vision and strategic directions. This approach has the added benefit of enhancing the level of trust and engagement across the business and builds the credibility of the leaders. This idea was reinforced in a recent article I came across by Jesse Lyn Stoner titled “How to Involve Your Team in Creating Vision and Strategy”. The article actually infers that the wise leader understands the benefits of involving the team in the creation of the vision and that, as a result of this involvement, the outcome is normally a clearer, more united vision.
So how do we get our teams involved in the creation of (or in some cases the validation of) our organisational vision? Stoner’s article provides a framework of eight steps that can help leaders engage their teams in this process. Those eight steps are:
- Share your ideas. Don’t wait until you think you have all the answers before you share your ideas.
- Create opportunities for discussion. Take the opportunity to have both formal and informal discussions about the vision and strategy.
- Ask questions. Use clarifying questions to ensure all team members understand what the vision is and what it means.
- Behave like a leader. Live the vision through your behaviour. Remember, your team will do as you do, therefore you must model the right behaviours.
- Share the ownership. The objective is to create a shared vision. This requires the leader to actively encourage team members to be involved in its creation.
- Own your vision, but remain flexible. Your vision is not a one-time stagnant statement – it will evolve over time. This process of evolution should be embraced and the vision should be reviewed once or twice a year.
- Use the vision to aid decision making. Your vision provides guidance about the decisions you make, the resources you pursue, etc. If it doesn’t contribute to the vision, don’t do it.
- Be accountable. Everyone on the team should be held accountable for behaving in line with the vision. Hold each other to account and keep the behaviours consistent with the vision.
The power of an engaging and inspiring vision is clear. So think about how you can get your team involved in validating or creating your vision. As Steve Jobs said “If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.’