Showing The Way
Articulating your vision is vital in leading people. Having a vision, a big dream or a great idea in your mind is not enough. Most people have that; we call them dreamers.
But to translate these from dreams to reality takes the courage of a leader to articulate this vision. By articulating your vision, you take the risk that the vision may not happen and may discredit you. That’s why articulating a vision can be a big challenge for most people.
However, if you have the courage to share the vision; you will find that people who believe in the vision as much as you are willing to take the journey with you. They will give you support and commitment because they also want it to happen, and they are glad someone is taking the lead.
In fact, research has shown that a clearly articulated vision can draw even more commitment from people than charisma. You may not be the most articulate, good-looking and persuasive person, but if your vision is clear and people believe in it; you will become a leader to people.
Look at the following individuals:
Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Henry Ford are three leaders that have led their worlds with a vision. They are not the best looking celebrities, nor are they the most articulate or charismatic. People simply believed in the clear, articulated vision that they spoke out with courage.
So how should you articulate a vision that can draw a committed following? Below are three important points to note:
Articulating the Vision
Keep the message simple
The best way to communicate a good vision is to explain it in such a way that a 12-year-old can understand it. Don’t over-complicate the message by including unnecessary details that can be sorted out later. Keep the focus only on the key, simple message.
You should practice articulating it to yourself; your spouse, your children ( 12 years and above!); can you do it in 3 sentences or less? The more you find you have to explain yourself, the more likely you are unsure about the vision.
The following are sample questions you can use to guide it:
- What is exactly the future you intend to create?
- What do you see in that vision?
- What are the people doing? How do they feel?
A good articulation of vision, like many things in life, takes practice to do well. And this is worth practicing because, as a leader, you’ll be talking about it all the time.
Paint a picture
People are often more driven to action by pictures. More than words, pictures motivate people because they can ‘see’ it. And when they see it, they are more likely to believe that it is possible and therefore go out to make it happen.
So describe the ideal to them. If the vision is fulfilled, what would the future look like? How would their lives be like? How would society be like if the vision is fulfilled? The more details you give, the more realistic the future will appear to them.
Another strategy is simply to use visuals, diagrams and pictures to help people visualize while you are articulating your vision. When everyone in the room looks at the same picture; there is little room for different interpretations.
Articulate the vision regularly
Humans are forgetful creatures. When the vision is shared, do not expect it to be caught the first time. By the time the next project or task comes up, most people would have put the ‘fluffy’ speech about vision away in the light of more pressing immediate needs.
That’s why it’s important to constantly remind the team about the vision; because the vision gives meaning to the daily grind. As kids, our parents never stopped reminding us (most call it nagging) to put away our toys; to eat our vegetables. And guess what, we grew up remembering those words.
It will be the same in the articulating of your vision. When you say it enough times, it gets etched into the long-term memory of most people and therefore remembered at the unconscious level.
Most of All…
Stay personally focused on the vision! Some leaders do not gain the respect or follower-ship they desire because they keep changing the vision.
While it is less obvious in corporate organizations, in volunteer organizations it becomes obvious when the leader loses focus and put attention on other things.
Remember: TWO VISIONS = DI-VISION
When you have two ideas, you will bring division, both the division of your personal time and divided opinions in the team. Stay focused, articulate it consistently, and follow through!