Direction setting is one of the most important activities a leader performs. By articulating a clear vision of the team’s future direction, leaders focus their team members on the activities that are most important, and they give their team members the information they need to use their initiative to full effect.
I have outlined the following approach for those, that like myself, that prefer task and evidence-based projects. To start we need to assess our current characteristics you currently have as a leader. By realistically understanding your strengths and weaknesses you can use them to your advantage when it comes to creating and articulating your thoughts.
Emotional Intelligence is the key foundation for all thing’s leadership – and creating a Vision is one of the key aspects of being a leader.
If you are going to lead your followers need to know where you are going and what the path to get there looks like.
However, if you are unsure of who you are, what strengths and weaknesses you have and/or if you even want to be a leader than you quest for creating a vision is doomed to failure.
Motivation – do you really want to be the leader? If so, do you know what motivates and demotivates you? Do you have strategies to keep you motivation even in the face of setbacks? Do you enjoy motivating others?
Self confidence also plays a role in your ability to lead and create a vision. If you can’t confidently say what you believe and how you want to get there – why should anyone follow? We all have self-doubt at times, but being a leader enables us to push through and ask “what else” instead of “what if”
I personally don’t think enough is said about a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude not only shapes your mood and your interactions, but also the culture and tone of the day for those around you.
To then put together all the components of leadership together and ensure our vision has any chance of gaining traction we need to be able to communicate. The interesting part about communication is that is more listening than speaking. If you can be a good listener, curious and open to new ideas you are well on your way to being able to find a way to communicate your thoughts and goals with others in a way they would like to hear.
I would suspect anyone reading this hasn’t heard anything new yet. To me it was interesting to put the 5 characteristics together and to self-assess where my strengths and weaknesses lie. Mind tools have great tools you can use to help in that assessment.
The true ah-ha moment for creating a vision came to me in these next steps.
So let assume we have considered all the above and are comfortable in our leadership abilities and have set ourselves goals to improve our areas of weaknesses.
Now lets concentrate on our strengths and move to the next step – Creating our Vision.
This is where our task-based attributes can shine.
To start we need to assess the situation. How can we create a vision without first assessing where we are and how our practice fits into the wider market and more to the point how are we going to stay relevant in the future?
Creating a Vision Part 1:
Get the facts
• Information Gathering – survey your clients, read about the state of the industry ask suppliers
• Monitoring Change – staying ahead of events: what are the current trends?
• Stealing Inspiration – getting good ideas from elsewhere: internet – what are they doing overseas?
• Scenario Analysis: what are our client’s “problems” what are different ways in which we can “solve” them?
After we have completed the above, we can start to take the information gathered and draft phrases and concepts to outline our overall thoughts.
Creating a Vision Part 2:
Create a compelling story
· With the information gathered what does it mean to your business, where do you fit in as part of the solution?
· Humanise the meaning – what emotions do you want your clients to feel, how do you want your team to feel when they are at work? We are usually quite good at collecting the facts – but to make it compelling we need to add the “why and how”
· Start by writing the facts – then putting them into sentences – then ask your team what emotions and behaviours are needed to complete the picture.
Consider, most of us are motivated if we think that what we do gives real value to other people and their pets
Creating a Vision Part 3:
Define values your team can believe in
· These are the guiding principles and beliefs about how things should be done that shape how individuals approach their jobs and find meaning in their day-to-day work.
· The practice’s values should reflect the characteristics clients most respect
about the practice, and they should be the things that team members are most proud of.
· They provide a framework within which people can work effectively without detailed supervision.
We are often told to search deep within ourselves to create our vision to find our purpose and to explore our own emotions. While I agree this is a great thing to do, we often struggle and therefore never get past this first hurdle.
What I would like to propose is to look at a Vision from a more objective standpoint. Let’s focus on the facts what do our clients need, where is the economy going, what pressures do our clients face and how do their pets fit into their lives. With these facts we can create an end goal, then with that goal in mind all we need to do is describe how we would like to accomplish it with the feelings and behaviours we will need to get there in a manner that motivates and compels us.
To then put it all together if your overall goal is to be a transformational leader this is step 1:
The six transformational leadership behaviours – vision articulation, setting of a good example, fostering of group goals, setting of high-performance expectations, provision of individual support
and intellectual stimulation – are used by the leader to uplift and build the skills
and self-confidence of his or her team members.