Every leader deals with leading, championing or even driving change. And every book and article about doing that will talk about the importance of the vision for the changed state. There is a good reason for that – a vision of the changed state you want people to move towards is critical to a successful change.
So you read advice like:
“Create a vision”
“Make it compelling”
“Help people see what you see”
All of that is true, but incomplete. That advice doesn’t go far enough.
I want to give you some tangible ideas for creating and communicating a vision that will make a difference, whether you are a CEO or a first line supervisor, but perhaps especially if you are a first line supervisor (or any leader below the C-suite).
Help People (Really) See It
Perhaps even you don’t see the vision clearly enough, if that is the case, you must start there. But let’s assume you see the vision clearly.
It’s not enough.
If the vision is going to attract the commitment of someone, they must clearly and completely see, feel and sense the vision themselves. Help people see the complete picture of what it will look like when success has been achieved/the change has been successful. This will take some time and some help from you. Do more than describe it from your perspective – ask people what it will look like, feel like, and even smell like when the change has been successful. Help people see that future state clearly, in all its glory. When that desired future feels and seems real, it will be more compelling. That ultra-holographic image makes it easier to reconnect to that vision in the future, especially when the change is hard and people can’t see that future.
Make it About Why
In the end, the change isn’t about the outcome as much as it is about why it matters or makes a difference. When we can help people see not only the change itself, but why it matters, it will make all the difference. When you think about successful change efforts, people always know why the effort is being expended. Once people understand why, they will stay focused on that outcome.
Help Others Find Their Why
The organization has a why, you have a why. Whether they are the same or not, doesn’t really matter, as long as both pull people towards the desired result. Taking that one step further – your team (or individuals on it) may have a different purpose and why that they see for the change.
As long as people have a compelling reason why they will work towards the change, you shouldn’t care what their reason is.
Spend less time convincing them of your reason why, and more time helping them find their own.
Help Them Believe it Can Happen
A vision can be clear and exciting and desirable, but if people don’t think there is any way they can achieve it, it won’t be very powerful. Once the vision is clearly seen, help people begin to see that it is possible to get there! Give people reasons to believe, support their belief, and support all positive progress. A reachable vision is a more powerful one.
Listen To Their Worries and Concerns
You might think this goes beyond the vision itself, and you would be partially correct. It doesn’t change the importance of this point. When you help people see the vision, they may have concerns. They may be worried, they may see risks. The time to deal with all of those things is as early as possible.
Ask people about the risks they see and what bothers them about the change. Then shut up and listen to their responses. Some will be misunderstandings – it will surface that they don’t yet understand the change completely. Some will be nervous, and once people have a chance to air their concerns, often the emotion drops. Some will have merit and they might help you improve the vision, adjust the plan or otherwise enhance the success for the project or change.
Whatever the outcome, taking the time to hear people’s concerns and challenges is a positive to the overall success of your change effort.
This list could be expanded, and yet this gives you a good toolkit to get started in most situations – whether you are instituting the change yourself, or you are supporting a change handed down to you.