Hold Off on the Goals – Set a Vision

business discussion

As we start the new year, there’s an overwhelming abundance of advice about how best to identify and realize your goals for the year ahead. Unfortunately, most of this wisdom fails to mention a critical element of success – having a simple, clear and compelling vision about what it all looks like at the end of the day.

Without the compelling vision, goal attainment feels like a routine exercise, devoid of meaning as well as the energy to make things happen. A good vision is like a secret sauce, without it, everything feels bland and unappealing. As you think about your own priorities for the year ahead, consider how well you’ve leveraged a vision to advance the agenda of your own work team and organization.

Here are some key suggestions to generate traction for your vision:

1.)  Keep it simple.

  • futureA vision is what your team or your organization aims to become in the future – your destination.
  • The best visions are concise, clear and compelling. Try to articulate your vision in no more than one minute. Even shorter sound bites work well for quick conversations.
  • Your vision needs to make sense rationally and draw people in emotionally. While some people are good with an approach that is entirely logical, more people get on board and become truly committed when there’s a clear emotional ‘hook’.
  • Your vision should be clear enough that people know that they’re making progress towards realization. It should be compelling enough that people mobilize to make it happen.
  • Build people’s appetite for your vision, beyond just understanding it – help them see it as a key part of their own agenda.

2.)  Add some urgency.

  • A well-crafted vision can rapidly accelerate activity and create a sense of urgency around a high stakes opportunity. Get people excited about what’s possible for their future.
  • In the vision, vividly portray what success looks like and include a timeframe that’s ambitious but attainable. Socialize catchphrases that go viral.
  • Then encourage people to step up and participate. Notice how ‘early adopters’ embrace the vision and make it their own. Build on that knowledge to leverage greater engagement and participation.

3.)  Connect it to real work.

  • Understanding the vision is important for people in every role. Draw the link between people’s individual goals, projects, deliverables and your team or organization’s destination.
  • vision aheadInitiate conversations with your colleagues and stakeholders. Get clear about how your team’s contribution moves the organization towards its vision. Get clear about how your team’s efforts activate the strategy directly or indirectly.
  • Get clear about how the vision fits into the larger context of your industry and society. Articulate why this matters to you personally and professionally-purpose and passion fuel individual and group performance.
  • Discuss upcoming initiatives that don’t fully align with the vision. What adjustments need to be made? Outline the specific actions you and your team will take to remove obstacles and drive the vision forward.

4.)  Show optimism and perseverance.

  • Your vision may not materialize at the pace you want. It may be sidetracked by problems or unforeseen events. The destination may no longer seem feasible. But doom and gloom forecasts do little to rouse energy needed to achieve a vision.
  • Make a conscious effort to address difficulties without letting them drag you and your team down. Talk about what you’ve learned from setbacks. Use delays as opportunities to regroup and reinvigorate. Then get back to work.
  • According to the recent research, showing “grit”-sustained interest and effort toward a long term vision – is a primary predictor of success. Grit surpasses intelligence and talent as key for achievement in a wide variety of contexts – both personal and work-related.
  • Work hard to make your vision a reality.

in focus5.)  Keep it in focus.

  • Given all the things that compete for attention, even a compelling vision may fade into the background. Make sure it stays at the forefront. Reinforce it repeatedly. Refer to it in conversations, meetings and social media.
  • Create a memorable symbol, slogan, or image of the vision that makes the cause come alive. Something that captures the imagination. Conjures up exciting possibilities. Set up a friendly competition or get others involved in creating it so more people are invested.
  • Use visual scorecards – such as dashboards or indicator panels – to show progress towards the vision. Regularly share stories that illustrate progress. Reward those who really move the needle in the desired direction.

6.)  Be prepared for skeptics.

  • There will always be those who don’t buy your vision. They may be private about it or come at you in public.
  • Be prepared to answer the most likely questions or critiques that may surface. “Is this realistic? Our customers won’t go for it. Where will we get the resources?”
  • Consider your answers and think about how you’ll respond. Listen patiently to people’s concerns – there may have been a time when you weren’t convinced this was the way to go either. They may simply want to protect the organization’s best interests.
  • Approach resistance as a positive thing. If you handle questions openly, others will feel free to voice their concerns. It’s better to have the issues on the table than to have them fester below the surface.
  • Empathize with people and if more dialogue is needed to get on the same page, welcome it. Contrary opinions may ultimately strengthen the vision. If resistance becomes entrenched and people won’t collaborate, reinforce why the vision has merit and the timing is now.
  • Occasionally, you may have to pull someone aside and say, “I understand your concerns, but we’re moving on. Are you with us or not?”

Crafting a concise, clear and compelling vision will make your priorities so much more palatable and attainable. Leverage your vision to accomplish some really exciting things for your team and organization in the year ahead!

To find out more about how to develop and advance a vision that will drive your goals and priorities, contact me today ([email protected] or 250-882-8830).

About The Author

Scott Borland, Founder & President of CYGNUS Management Consultants Inc, , is a recognized expert in helping executives host strategic conversations and obtain high impact feedback. He brings insightful perspective and proven strategies to strengthen the alignment between strategy and leadership behaviour. Scott has presented frequently at regional/national conferences and is a regular contributor to online journals/blogs. Follow Scott on Twitter or add him as a connection on LinkedIn.

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