People are hungry to be led and will gravitate toward leaders who have a clearly communicated vision. Knowing “why we do these things around here” helps put management’s expectations for individuals and teams into a meaningful context.
What a well-communicated vision can do
Authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner found that “when leaders effectively communicate a vision—whether it’s to one person, a small group, or a large organization—that vision has very potent effects. We’ve found that when leaders clearly articulate their vision for the organization, constituents report significantly higher levels of the following:
- Job satisfaction
- Esprit de corps
- Clarity about the organization’s values
- Pride in the organization
- Organizational productivity
Clearly, teaching others about the vision produces powerful results.”
Implementing your communicated vision
In order to implement a communicated vision, leaders need to encourage clear buy-in from the people. This requires moving beyond communication to collaboration. The goal is to develop a supportive environment and bring along other people with differing talents and abilities. It also means that when the followers truly understand the vision, the leader needs to step aside and let them do the work to “produce” the vision. The leader needs to give them the authority and responsibility to do the work necessary in order to bring his or her vision to fruition.
I witnessed a meeting recently in which the leader brought together a crossfunctional group to brainstorm some marketing campaign ideas for the company. People from different departments assembled and were led through a planned exercise on corporate marketing focus for the following year. The best idea came from a person far removed from the marketing department. She quite innocently blurted out just the right direction and even suggested a great theme for the entire campaign.
If the leaders of this organization had simply called together the “marketing types,” they would have missed a tremendous idea. Or if the leader had done the work alone and not opened it up to input from others, he might not have secured the necessary buy-in from the staff to implement the project. Studies show that when people understand the values and are part of the vision and decision-making process, they can better handle conflicting demands of work and higher levels of stress.
People want the best in themselves called out. They will rally around a communicated vision and work hard to support it. The vision also establishes a foundation of shared commitment and focus if and when times get rough.