Why Inspiring a Shared Vision Is the Hardest Thing You’ll Do as a Leader

Warwick Fairfax

June 17, 2019

One of the hardest areas of leadership is to inspire a group of people with a common vision, a shared vision. Why is this?

Typically, leaders are in love with their vision. They have a hard time letting anyone touch their vision. More often than not, their vision is years in the making and a culmination of all their hopes and dreams. It summarizes everything they are and everything they value. They would rather fail than have anyone desecrate a vision that they have come to believe in. At least, this is what a visionary often thinks.

The statue of David, by Michelangelo, comes to mind when I think of a leader’s attachment to their vision. They see their vision as perfection, a masterpiece. They almost worship it. How could you let anyone mess with such a wondrous vision? The problem with this way of thinking is that, while you may perceive your vision to be at the same level as the statue of David, it likely needs more work and polish from a team of people who can add value.

Empower Your Team with A Shared Vision

Great leaders have learned to give others on their team the hammer and chisel and let them contribute. They encourage their team to take this hammer and chisel and go chip away. They allow their team to have ownership.

“The price of success, of a vibrant, breathing vision, is partnership. The willingness to share your vision, to give the keys of the kingdom to your team, is one of the most powerful things you can do as a leader.”

It can be tough for a leader to ask for input from their team, but which is better: 100% buy-in from your team to 80% of your vision, or 0% buy-in to 100% of your vision? For most leaders, if the final vision is 80% of your vision, that’s a win. What’s the point of having 100% of your vision when your team does not buy into it? What’s the chance that your vision will succeed, that your vision will get implemented? The answer is it won’t.

This is where it gets really hard, because you have to mean it. Your team needs to believe that you actually want their input. When they hesitantly offer some thoughts, it’s important to thank them, especially if this is a shift for you and how you do things. It won’t be easy, but giving a little ownership goes a long way in creating a team who is committed to your dream.

Those on your team who implement the vision must buy into it, it is that simple. Without the buy-in of your team, the vision will go nowhere. It is sheer pragmatism. Your team will get that.

Evolve Your Vision for Success

Armed with the philosophy of why it is important to get the input of the team, you now need to put it into practice.

1. Depending on the size of your team, share your vision and have a brainstorming session.

  • If your team is large, consider having several groups meet separately to gather feedback. Then have the team leaders of these groups gather with you to discuss the feedback they have received.

2. Go back and redraft your vision using the input you’ve received.

  • You might consider having someone else redraft the vision, but since it is your vision and you are the team leader, you might want to do the redrafting.  Input is good, but you are still the team leader and you still have to buy into the vision.

3. Share the redrafted vision with your team. What is good about this new version of the vision? What could be improved?

  • Gather their input again and redraft the vision. After a few rounds of this, you need to declare victory and make the vision final — at least final for now.

By this point, you should have a group of people who have passionately bought into the vision. They are ready to take any hill or go through any obstacle.  After all, it is not just your vision, but it is now also their vision. Isn’t that what you want, a group of people passionate about the vision, locking arms together to do whatever it takes to make the vision become reality?

Crucible Leadership, Warwick Fairfax, Inspiration, Leadership, Coaching, Leading a Life of Significance

Reflection

  • What ways can you be more proactive in sharing your vision with your team?
  • Have you gathered your team’s input and included them in the process of setting the vision?
  • How are you giving your team ownership of the vision?

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