The Best Leaders Know How to Set a Vision

An often-overlooked step in motivating and inspiring their people

by Adam C. Bandelli

Among the many challenges that leaders face is maximizing performance. How can they get the best out of their people? What can they do to grow the business? What innovative products and services can they bring to the market? Although these questions are critical to a company’s success, the first thing the senior leadership team must do is get clear on their vision. Setting the vision enables the organization to move forward. 

When leaders do not have a clear vision, challenges arise. Even with the best intentions, leaders who miss this step often have trouble motivating and inspiring their people. This lack of focus also causes them to try to do too many things at once without having a core purpose to rally their people behind. When a strong vision has been laid out, people have a reason to go above and beyond current expectations. They have a desired end state that is worth moving toward. They put in the hard work and effort needed because they believe something great will take place if they remain focused on the key goals and objectives. 

To build a strong, sustainable vision for an organization, there are three vital steps that need to occur: 

Build a playbook. Making one’s vision a reality takes time and effort. Building a playbook for how to get to the desired outcome is key. Leaders with a strong playbook have a game plan for their teams to follow. Without it, leaders may have an overarching goal they’re attempting to achieve, but won’t get there because of a lack of focus. 

The first critical component of the playbook is identifying three to five strategic objectives that one’s people can work toward to make the vision a reality. Secondly, one must ensure that the objectives are things that one’s people thoroughly understand. To do this, it is important to ensure the playbook objectives cover different areas of the business. Lastly, it is critical to make sure the key objectives are realistic and practical for others to follow. Leaders cannot move their organization forward unless people can take massive action toward their attainment. 

Bring others along for the journey. No leader can scale the mountain on their own. They need capable, skilled and reliable people around them who can help make the vision a reality. To bring others along, there are several things that are important to implement. The first is including everyone on the team in the early stages of vision setting. The more bright and strategic minds that can be brought into the planning and decision making, the better the outcome will be. Secondly, it is important to continue to include them as part of the planning as things evolve. No vision is perfect from its inception. Things evolve over time as many factors — including external environment, demands of the business and customer trends — change. Lastly, it is important to allow the team to have constructive discussions and debate about the vision along the way. Leaders have to calibrate along the journey if their vision is to come to pass. The best leaders take time each quarter to bring their senior team together. If things need to change, they make sure they are willing to make the necessary adjustments. 

Celebrate the victories. Life moves quickly. For leaders, there is always the next milestone to achieve, the next mountain to climb. If leaders aren’t careful, they can lose sight of the present and miss out on opportunities to encourage and support their people. I’ve seen many leaders who constantly push and strive for the next accomplishment. This leads to burnout with their teams because there wasn’t time to slow down and celebrate. It’s important that leaders remember to tell their people how proud they are of the team’s and the team members’ successes. Leaders should reward and recognize great performance, praise people publicly, take time for mentoring and coaching, and help their people get better. The best leaders focus on the growth and development of their people as a top priority. Encouragement and support gives people confidence to strive forward. 

For great leaders, vision is everything. They know what matters most and are committed to their overarching goals and priorities. They enable their people to reach their desired outcomes. This has a cascading effect throughout their organizations. 

So, get the right vision in place for your people, teams and organization. Identify your primary objective, build your playbook around it, bring people along for the journey and celebrate the wins along the way. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish together. 

Adam C. Bandelli, Ph.D., is the managing director of Bandelli & Associates, a boutique consulting firm focusing on leadership advisory services and organizational effectiveness. He is the author of the book, What Every Leader Needs: The Ten Universal and Indisputable Competencies of Leadership Effectiveness. 

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