The second of the Five Leadership Principles we’re walking through this month is Inspire a Shared Vision.
You’ve heard me say many times that entrepreneurs are people of action and often struggle with seeing the value of sitting down to do the work of building the foundational pieces of their enterprise, because it feels like ‘busy work’ that doesn’t net much in the way of results. “I need to be out there building this company and getting stuff done,” I hear them say, “Not sitting around noodling over some statement that I can’t see value in.”
Why It Matters
A rocket ship that is one millimeter off course when it’s on the ground will be 100 million light years away from its intended target when it reaches outer space. Not having a clearly articulated vision puts you off course from the get-go. And worse, not having that vision means that, assuming your business gets to ‘outer space’, you don’t really even know if you’re off course because you don’t know where or what the intended target is in the first place.
Of course, you have a ‘vision’ for what you want in your business or profession and life. It might exist just in your head, but you know it, right? Often, though, when I ask people about their vision, I will get a response that only tells me what they want to have for themselves. They’ll say things like, “My vision is to have a successful business, work from anywhere, make enough money to be secure and comfortable, and have a lifestyle that gives me time with my family and friends.” That vision is fine, and necessary. In fact, if you are married or in a family, you’ll want everyone in the family to be inspired by and bought into that vision, and you’ll want to have action plans and strategies that move you (and them) toward that vision.
But that’s your personal vision. What I want to address is your business vision; a vision others can be excited about and buy into.
The Problem Solved
Your business vision is not what you want for yourself, it is about how the world would look if the problem your business addresses were solved. It is a prophetic statement of what does not exist yet, as a state of being, but is what ‘done’ looks like.
You need to do the work of creating this vision statement so you have a north star, a clear point of success. You need to have this statement so your clients can envision themselves arriving at this kind of ‘done’. And you need to have this statement so that your team (even if you don’t have one yet) can be clear about what their working toward.
Leaders Cast Vision
If one of your aspirations is to become the CEO of your business (and I hope it is), developing and incorporating these leadership principles into your daily life and work is imperative. In order to have all the wonderful, amazing things you see for yourself in the future, you need to become a person who could have those things. A leader. And leaders cast vision.
People say yes to buying things because they love the potential of what they could be, do and have if they had that thing. That’s a vision. People say yes to working somewhere or with someone because they can see the big picture, the vision, and they want to be part of creating that. People say yes to a brand, in whatever way, because of vision.
So, How, Then?
Alright. Now you get why it matters and you are prepared to do the work. You’ve sat down, listened to my podcast episodes on vision and mission statements, and developed what you think is a rockin’ vision. You understand the importance of getting people inspired into sharing the vision. But how do you inspire a shared vision?
Here are important things to do:
- Use stories. Stories are what connect us as human beings to a concept. Tell your business origin story. Tell a story about someone with the problem you solve, who either found your solution or who had a bad experience because your solution didn’t exist. Stories make ideas real. Stories give people a place to connect with their emotions.
- Lean into the heart. Inspired is a feeling, an emotion. In order for others to be inspired into a shared vision, they need to not only see the vision; they need to feel that vision. It’s not important – and c an even be a detraction at this point – for you to share all the technical details of the features of your product when casting vision. It is important that your audience can step into imagining with you a world where the problem is solved. This involves a lot of emotive adjectives, painting a word picture with heart.
- Be solution-focused. When casting vision, you are absolutely going to talk about the pain of the problem. But if you stay there, people just feel despondent, not inspired. Casting vision means staying focused on the prize, which is the solution. Get your audience excited about solving the problem with you – being part of the amazing solution.
I recommend that you practice, because practicing will help you craft and hone your vision and assess responses. So, take your vision statement and prepare a ten-minute talk on it. Then road test it on someone you trust to give you honest feedback. Revise and do it again.
I have a story-blocking process that can really help you get your vision story created. Connect with me to receive that training.
And, as you work on your leadership skills this month and onward, stay on point!