What exactly is vision? And why is it so important to communicate your vision as a leader?
Vision describes some achievement or future state that the organization wants to accomplish. A vision has to be shared in order to do what it is meant to do – which is inspire, clarify and focus the work.
According to Talula Cartwright, co-author of Communicating Your Vision, published by the Center for Creative Leadership in 2006, part of your job as a leader is to generate commitment to your organization’s vision. To do this, you have to communicate the vision in a way that matters to people. You want people in the organization to believe the vision and to pass it on to others.
Leaders need to get the word out about the organization’s vision in multiple ways — and keep the message going. So how do you get your organization’s vision out there? Try these nine tips:
No. 1, Tell a story. When you tell a good story, you give life to a vision. A good storyteller creates trust, captures hearts and minds, and serves as a reminder of the vision. Plus, people find it easier to repeat a story than to talk about a vision statement.
No. 2, Perfect your “elevator speech.” What compelling vision can you describe in the amount of time you have during a typical elevator ride? Every leader needs to be able to communicate the vision in a clear, brief way. Be prepared to talk about it in line at the cafeteria, when you visit the customer service department, and even walking through the parking lot at the end of the day.
No. 3, Use multiple forms of media. The more channels of communication you use, the better the chance of your organization understanding the vision. Use the newest communication technologies, but don’t forget the tangibles: coffee mugs, t-shirts, luggage tags and whatever else you can think of that will keep the message in circulation.
No. 4, Have one-on-one conversations. Engage others. Personal connections give leaders opportunities to transmit information, receive feedback, build support and create energy around the vision.
No. 5, Draw a crowd internally. Identify key players, communicators, stakeholders and supporters within your organization who will motivate others to buy into the vision.
No. 6, Go outside the company. Communicate to customers, partners and vendors with advertising and public relations campaigns, catalogs, and announcements.
No. 7, Make memories. Create metaphors, figures of speech and slogans — and find creative ways to use them. Write a theme song or a memorable motto.
No. 8, Guide the expedition. Use visual aids and updates to keep everyone aware of the progress you are making toward your vision. Create a vision GPS, but don’t just give out maps. Travel alongside, stay out in front, offer directions and point out guideposts.
No. 9, Back up what you’re talking about. Bolster what you’re saying with your behavior. If people see one thing and hear another, your credibility is shot and your vision is dead.
But if you’re not part of your organization’s senior leadership team, the broad organizational vision probably didn’t come from you. Part of your job is to understand and communicate the vision in a way that is relevant to you and your group. Be able to answer these key questions:
- What exactly is the company’s vision?
- How do I connect to my organization’s vision, and what is my role in achieving that vision?
- How do I show my passion and enthusiasm for the vision and the organization? and…
- Are there any obstacles in my way to prevent me from communicating this vision? If so, how can I surmount those obstacles?
Be excited — and proud — to communicate your company’s vision. By doing so, you are letting others know what a promising future you and your organization have. And have fun!