Leadership Essential: Sharpen Your Vision

"A vision without a task is but a dream. A task without a vision is drudgery. A vision with a task is the hope of the world."

At the start of 2020, did you make a list of goals for the year? Even if you aren't in the habit of writing resolutions, you probably had some hopes and plans in mind. At that point, few could have imagined the challenges we would face. Now, in September, I would bet that few of our original goals for 2020 have been realized — though we can also view this as an opportunity to shift our mindset, reset priorities, and sharpen our vision for the future.

Most of us live our day-to-day lives on automatic without giving much thought to a larger purpose or meaning for who we are or what we do. Even leaders with the greatest of intentions can fall into this trap. So, what’s the problem?

Leadership that lacks forward thinking can quickly lead to discouragement and financial failure. Therefore, leadership without vision is actually dangerous! Think about it this way:

Imagine you are traveling in a car with your team, and each of you have your heads buried in your GPS devices. No one, not even YOU, the driver, is looking  at the road! In this scenario, it is difficult to see how you could possibly avoid an accident, right? However, when you pay attention, ignore the distractions, take in the scenery, and are present to where you are going, you will have a successful trip! It's the same with being a visionary leader.

Being a forward-thinking, visionary leader is an on-going process.

Michelangelo's artistic visions expressed in marble sculptures were not created in one mighty blow of a hammer. Instead, each day Michelangelo checked the changing light, the evolving stresses in the marble, and the amount of sheen, as he chipped away everything that was not a part of his evolving vision. In what took many years, in some instances, his visions finally emerged from the marble.

Vision is an on-going creative process, and as your company's leader, as the visionary, you can expect to make a million little adjustments in your future thinking as you move closer to its realization.

Getting Started

As you contemplate your goals, and what you want to create, here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your purpose and are you excited by it?
  • As the visionary, what does your view of the future affect what you do now?
  • What will the future look like if you and your team achieve that vision?
  • Does your vision reflect your values?
  • Is your vision written down in clear language?
  • How can you be sure everyone understands the vision you speak?
  • Who are you inspiring?

Once you have a clear picture of where you are going and what you want to achieve, you have to share your vision with your team! A vision that is not clearly stated cannot be shared, and if it isn't shared it simply doesn't exist. If you do not communicate with your team, you cannot expect your vision to become a reality.

Communicate With Passion

How you communicate your picture for the future is important too. Communicate your view of the "road trip and final destination" in a way that reflects your passion for what lies ahead. Write a plan that serves as the road map for getting what you want and have your team participate in that planning process. By teaching it to your team, they share in the vision and will work more enthusiastically to bring it into being. A shared vision that lights up your employees will be embraced by them, which will help your company and team thrive, not just survive.

Three people were at work on a construction site.
All were doing the same job, but when each was
asked what the job was, the answers varied.
"Breaking rocks," the first builder replied.
"Earning my living," the second said.
"I'm building a cathedral," said the third. 

—Peter Schultz

Be the third builder!

Clay Nelson
Clay Nelson
Founder/President at Clay Nelson Life Balance
Clay Nelson's background includes science, systems analyst, and business management. After 30 years of corporate leadership, Clay knows the key elements that make a business successful, and for more than two decades, Clay has been providing business executives and their teams, from all industries, executive business and professional coaching, mediation, facilitation, planning, system analyses and seminar leadership. Read More »


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