Creating a shared vision is one of the most important roles of a leader. But vision alone is not enough. Vision requires action.
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. – Japanese proverb
First: Do a “Vision Check” to make sure you really have a shared vision.
➤ Does your vision include all three keys to a compelling vision?
➤ Did you involve others in creating it? Does the vision resonate with their own hopes, and can they see how they can contribute?
Now: Take action!
1. Start now. Take the first steps and other steps will be come clear.
Vision is about action, not planning. As you take steps, future steps become clear as you move forward. Make plans, but be prepared to adjust them. Use your vision as the guide.
2. Act consistently with your vision at all times.
People watch what you do more closely than they listen to what you say. Behave consistently with your vision and live your vision in every way, small and great, every minute of the day. Consider your vision when making day-to-day, short term and long-term decisions.
3. Support your team so they can support the vision.
Find out what’s needed to support those who are working toward the vision. Remove obstacles, provide resources, cheer progress, and remind them of what’s important as events occur so the vision can be the guiding force each day. Make sure policies, processes and procedures are aligned with the vision. Lack of structural integrity will derail even those who are highly committed.
4. Be relentless AND have compassion.
It takes courage to create a vision and even more courage to act on it. Ruthless commitment is required. But compassion is also required because when you take risks, mistakes will happen, by yourself and others. Rather than asking, “who is to blame?” ask “what can we learn?” Learn from mistakes and keep moving forward.
5. Focus on your vision when you are thrown off course.
At some point you will be thrown off course. Unforeseen events are bound to occur. Instead of getting discouraged and losing your commitment, reframe the event as a challenge or an opportunity on the road to living your vision.
6. Reset goals when necessary.
When events beyond your control occur that prevent you from achieving certain goals, be willing to change your goals. Goals are the milestones, the markers that show you are on the path to achieve your vision. If a goal is no longer realistic, set new goals that are aligned with your vision.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Find creative ways to communicate and champion your vision on an ongoing basis. Keep your vision alive by considering it with every decision you make and when something unexpected happens.
The seven tips given are very important. I am a development practitioner and I often facilitate grassroots organisations to develop their vision when Participatory Strategic Planning is conducted. While vision requires action, to initiate collective action the vision is important. We discuss the Vision, develop it, then we go to mission. From there we go to the action plan. It is not planning, but, action to reach the envisaged vision which is a state. May be we may not reach that “state” or “vision” during our life time, but, when we have the collective vision, we know where we want to go. This also helps many people to develop their personal vision going deeper into oneself. Many after the vision collective creation stated they are very clear about the actions they should take to reach it. The tips given by you are highly valuable for our work. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Upali. Too often organizations jump into strategic planning without first getting clear about what they are planning for.
After reading first few sentences I had the feeling this was the beginning of something big. I was right. I now call this my “Source Document for Manifesting Vision.” Or, “Everything You Ever Need to Know to Put Vision Into Action, but are Afraid to Ask.” I could go on and on about it, but read it and see if you agree. It speaks for itself. Extraordinary. Thank you again for another powerful contribution to the topic of leadership, Jesse.
Thanks, Lowell. It was a challenge capture the essence and keep it to a blog post length. Glad it worked for you.
Terrific visioning, Jesse. I have maintained for years that vision and mission without the corresponding action are empty and meaningless. Common or shared vision, values and goals are fine but without the strategies and tactics to implement those defining characteristics, it’s the same old song of the status quo. You often hear the phrase “walk the talk” and there are often too many who talk a good game but seem to make more noise than progress. Measuring that progress along the way will tell you whether or not your action is moving you toward fulfilling the mission and vision. Thanks for your words that will help get more people moving forward.
Good point about measuring your progress. Your comments remind me of an Ashleigh Brilliant quote: “Unless you move, the place where you are is the place where you will always be.” We need to do both – plan AND take action, actually I think we need to “plan while taking action.” Thanks for deepening the conversation, Gary.
Quoting: “1. Start now. Take the first steps and other steps will be come clear.” I have observed, as I’m sure many others have as well, that there are individuals / teams that unfortunately seek the “perfect” plan before beginning the effort. Often the individual or at least some of the team members are good students. I mention that particularly because these good students should understand that “perfect” is a goal but is never accomplished – uncertainty of methods, variability of material properties, … That leads us back to the quote: It is far better to develop a plan for sure; but it’s really critical to take the first step, get started!!! And by monitoring progress AND setbacks (they will always happen!!!), “other steps will come clear.”
Other suggestions are spot on as well!!!
Well said, John. Thanks for further illuminating this important point. There is a dynamic tension between planning and taking action. I believe both are important, but to be effective, they must be iterative, not sequential.
While too many people argue over the difference between vision and mission, you, Jesse, have always hit the nail on the head. Simple. Straight-forward. Common Sense. And as we both know, the latter is not very common. Sharing with my clients for their “holiday” reading.
Much thanks, Eileen. An easy way to explain the difference between mission and vision is: Mission is your reason for existence, your purpose. Vision is a picture of what it looks like when you have fulfilled your mission (and values).
I like your simple definition of mission and vision. In my experience, painting a clear picture of your preferred future is a very powerful tool for changing the conversation in an organization. Getting into action is how you keep that conversation going.
Love that idea: the vision changes the conversation and action keeps it going. Thanks, Tom.
Being relentless while simultaneously having compassion is a challenging balance to achieve. I agree, though, that it is worth the effort! I am glad this piece will be part of the June Leadership Development Carnival!
Hi Paula, Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am looking forward to the June Leadership Development Carnival and am delighted you will include this.
Greetings Jesse. Another spot-on post re: Leadership. I used the 7 tips as a check against my environment. Alas, any tips if the opposite of the 7 is the reality? YIKES LOL
Note to self: there is a lot of work ahead for our organization (sobering realization) …
The place to start is determining whether you actually have a shared vision. If you don’t, as the caterpillar told Alice in Wonderland, it doesn’t matter what path you take and your action is irrelevant. Your own action would depend on your role in the organization. If you have the ear of senior management, I would suggest they begin with a “take stock” conversation about the questions: where do we want to go and if we continue as we are, what is the likelihood of our getting there? If not, then I suggest you work within your own sphere of influence and radiate outward. Check out Organizational Change Can Start Wherever You Are. Wishing you the best in supporting your organization.
WAAOO……. SO NIIIICE COMMENTS AND POINTS REGARDING VISION ” FIRST DO & TAKE ACTION ” & ITS FULFILLMENT ON THE WAY TO ITS COMPLETION OR SUCCESS. VERY NICELY DESCRIBED & BENEFICIAL FOR LEARNING. LET ME ADD YOU ONE THING THAT VISION SHOULD BE MEASURE-ABLE AND ACHIEVABLE AND ALSO VERY CLEAR TO GO STEP BY STEP WHILE ACHIEVING AND SO ON…….
I agree it’s important to have measures and clear steps. Vision is the destination, goals are the milestones that define and measure the path. You might appreciate my post 6 Tips to Set Goals That Will Get You Where You Want to Go.