Many leaders have great visions and dreams for themselves and their organizations but after a while they realize that they are not moving ahead. People do not buy into their vision and eventually they give up and their visions and dreams die! Why?
The reason is that they don’t have any strategy for keeping their vision alive. Having a strategy for demonstrating your vision, communicating it with others, monitoring the progress toward fulfilling the vision and the buy-in ratio, and finding ways to energize, motivate, and inspire more people to buy into the vision and help you and the organization fulfill the vision is necessary.
Vision Alive is a tool that can help you keep your vision alive. Vision Alive has four components: vision poster, vision caster, vision meter, and vision energizer.
Vision poster simply demonstrates your vision on a poster. It is like painting your vision for others to see. Visual presentation is different from verbal presentation. When you show people a vivid picture of where you want to take them rather than just talking about it the impact would be bigger and the odds of getting there are much more. On the other hand when people continuously see something with their physical eyes they connect better and the image is carved in their subconscious mind to achieve it.
To prepare a vision poster you can do the following:
• Write down your powerful vision statement
• Identify keywords/key phrases of your vision statement
• Visualize a powerful and positive image of the future when you fulfill and live the vision
• Visualize the keywords and key phrases and link them to your mental picture of the vision
• With these mental images in mind, draw/paint what you have in mind (you may also write down some details of about your mental images)
• Have a creative painter (or graphic designer) to professionally paint what you have drawn and include the details of what you have written about your mental images in the painting
• Review the draft of your vision poster and make sure it clearly, powerfully, and positively demonstrates your vision (don’t forget to have your vision statement written on your vision poster as well)
• Revise, if necessary, and share your vision poster with other visionary leaders in your organization for their input
• Finalize your vision poster
Vision caster is all about communicating your vision. As mentioned earlier, no matter how great your vision, if you cannot communicate it properly and effectively you most probably will not fulfill it. Vision Caster is combination of ways through which you communicate your vision to people.
Here are some ways by which you can cast your vision:
Posting your vision poster: you can prepare high quality color prints of your vision poster and post them in various locations so that people can see and connect with it all the time. This is a powerful method of communicating your vision.
Video: Another powerful way of communicating your vision to others is through videos. You can talk about your vision and how to achieve it and have it video recorded. Remember that the way you present yourself through video is very important. I highly recommend that you memorize what you want to talk about in a video rather than reading from notes. When you read your notes you cannot connect with your audience effectively. In videos you need to have effective eye contact, hand gestures, vocal variety, and body language. When you are energized and passionate about your vision this can be felt by those who watch you.
Audio: You can also communicate your vision with others through audio recordings. Since audio recordings do not typically involve any visual aids, you need to transmit your passion through your voice. The tone of your voice, your vocal variety, effective pauses, your pace, and clarity of your language are key factors in effective communication of your vision through audio. Please note that it is important for people to hear your voice rather than someone else’s when communicating the vision.
Face-to-face meetings: You need to remind people of the vision during face-to-face meetings. This is one of the best and most effective ways because people can directly hear it from you live. However, due to busy schedules this way of communication does not happen often these days. Nevertheless, you should make your best to communicate it to top leaders in your organization directly and remind them to communicate that face-to-face with their teams and so on.
Annual events: Annual employee meetings or events are customary in organizations. In annual meetings, you get a chance to have a speech regarding the past or current year and the year ahead. This is a great opportunity to make an impact by communicating your vision with all the employees directly and answer their questions.
It is crucial that you are well prepared. Try not to read from your notes. If you believe in your vision and have a clear picture of where you want your organization and your people to be, you do not need to read your notes. Unfortunately, many leaders fail to communicate properly with their people in such important occasions. Showing power point slides or talking about numbers only is not the right way. You need to make an impact. You need to motivate people and above all you need to inspire them. Speeches are great ways to have people buy into your vision and act toward achieving goals and dreams. If you don’t know how, you’d better to take a speech delivery class or at least become a Toastmasters member.
Trainings: By providing some training to employees on how they can help in fulfilling the organization’s vision and the benefits and rewards of living the vision, you take a big step toward success. The more people you have on board, the bigger the odds of achieving the vision.
During orientation sessions for new hires a short training on organization’s vision, how to help in fulfilling the vision, and the expectations from the management regarding the vision is necessary. If you cannot be present yourself, at least a short yet powerful video message by you in which you clearly mention the vision, the importance of fulfilling it, the benefits of living it, and your minimum expectations from employees is a must.
Letters: Once in a while you can write a letter to employees, thank them for their achievements toward fulfilling the vision, and encourage them to do better. You remind them of the benefits of achieving the vision so that they become energized. Note that benefits should be more related to them and not to you or the profit of the organization. You need to answer “What is in it for me?” question.
Greeting cards: Special occasion greeting cards can be great tools for reminding people of the vision and the importance of fulfilling it. Don’t forget the power of small. Sending greeting cards may seem a small act but the impact could be very powerful especially these days that people are fed up with lots emails. A greeting card in which you simply say “thank you” and energize the receivers with a short note regarding the vision and their role in achieving it shows people that you care. When people know that you care, they take care of you and your vision in return.
Do you monitor your progress toward achieving the vision? If not, then how do you know that you are on the right track? How do you know that your people are on board? If you think that the numbers reflect that you may be wrong. Sometimes business looks good from outside but is being destroyed from inside. You always need to get feedback from people on how you are doing regarding the vision and its importance to people.
Vision Meter includes ways in determining your progress toward fulfilling the vision. Short surveys, monthly quizzes, interviews, regular verbal and written feedbacks, suggestion box, and vision score cards are among various ways that you can measure and monitor your progress and make sure your organization is on the right track toward the vision.
The output of Vision Meter process can help you in identifying the gaps and finding ways to fill those gaps. You may also need to adjust your vision, update your expectations, change your communication style, etc in order to get back on track toward success.
Vision Energizer is a process for energizing yourself and others to overcome the challenges along the way toward achieving the vision. If people are not motivated enough to face the changes and challenges that are part of powerful visions, they may not be able to stay on track for long and eventually they may give up and leave your leadership boat. Therefore, it is crucial to have strategies for energizing people to face all the challenges with enthusiasm and motivation.
Start with the self: when you are passionate and enthusiastic about and connected with the vision and people, you can energize them.
Be present: People look at you as their leader especially in tough times. Be always present and serve people. When you are present, they trust you and become motivated to help you.
Use affirmations: Positive affirmations that are practiced daily and demonstrated on people’s desks or bulletin boards are great tools in keeping people energized and motivated.
Vision celebration day: Celebrating achievements and appreciating those who have made a difference even though small toward fulfilling the vision along with energizing activities and games, prizes, inspiring and motivating speeches, and the way forward can be part of a special event called vision celebration day.
In sum, by having a vision poster to paint your dream for your people, communicating your vision in various ways to convey the importance of fulfilling the vision, monitoring your progress toward fulfilling the vision, and motivating and energizing your people to hold on to the vision and overcome the challenges along the way, you can keep your vision alive and thrive in both your professional and personal lives with people.