Leadership is all about communicating vision. And where vision is concerned, you have to communicate five critical things:
- What the vision is – and why.
- That the benefits are large, and the risk of failure is shared.
- That leadership is seriously committed and engaged in achieving the vision.
- That a plan is in place.
- That no one is exempt from change; everyone is part of the effort.
Communicating vision is based on an act of will. Certain assumptions have to be made about the future. The most important thing a leader can do is to articulate the vision, explain clearly the benefits associated with it, and then contrast them to the consequences of inaction.
Nothing can be a priority if everything is. To lead, you need to define what is truly important. You also need to make clear what the organization will not to do and what is not a priority. For example, a nationwide chain of auto parts stores planned to open an average of one new store a month for two years. The CEO told his managers: “We are not considering any mergers or acquisitions. We need to devote all our energy to supporting the new stores.”
Effective leaders take the time to communicate the vision repeatedly, to multiple audiences, consistently over time. It sounds simple. But it takes tremendous energy and dedication.
View our related tool: The Six Rings Strategic Planning Model