For some leaders, the capacity for long-term vision and strategic thinking can be both a blessing and a curse.
If you are one of the many gifted leaders who are fortunate enough to think strategically and creatively, you may also be surprised by how the teams and organizations you lead don’t see it like you do. Many leaders can become frustrated when their teams’ behaviors seem to run counter to the pursuit of vision or execution of strategy.
As a leader and an executive coach for many leaders over the past 16 years, I can relate to this challenge. I’ve been compelled by an exciting future and the challenges of growing, engaging and leading a team to a better version of themselves and our organization. And I’ve learned that no matter how wonderful your vision or brilliant your strategy, you won’t get there without strong communication and team alignment.
I find organizations that have a collective ownership around a vision and strategy get a lot further than those who haven’t done the hard work of making the vision relatable, real and clear to every contributor to the team.
So once you’ve defined your vision and strategy, here are some best practices to help you and your team get there together.
As a leader, it’s up to you to take the first step in creating a vision and strategy, but it’s important to allow your team to play along with you so that these ideas can become theirs as well.
When you give your team the opportunity to weigh in on vision and strategy, you’re encouraging them to buy in, too. And teams who are bought into the organization’s vision and strategy will pursue these ideas, defend them and sacrifice for them. When the vision and strategy become personal to them, they’ll take ownership.
If you want your leaders to model the behaviors that are aligned with your organization’s vision and strategy, they must be able to weigh in before these elements are set in stone and rolled out to the whole organization.
That way, your vision and strategy can be the foundation for a shared adventure for you and your team.
Once your leaders are on the same page with your vision and strategy, it’s time for them to communicate these ideas to their teams.
Make sure they do this in a way that not only allows for their teammates to buy in, but to clearly see how their roles and contributions will directly impact the vision or strategy execution.
To stay focused on where you’re headed, you and your team should Regularly review your vision and strategy personally and collectively. As you review, evaluate your effectiveness in executing these ideas. Consider how you can pay better attention to them, steer clear of distractions and continuously keep the main thing the main thing.
Real life happens; we’re never in a sterile environment, so we must have a plan for navigating the inevitable distractions and ensuring the team is pursuing the original vision and strategy.
Nothing builds momentum like belief. When you and your team can see that you’re making incremental steps towards your vision and strategy, you’ll become more confident in your ability to achieve them. Your team will be reassured that the work they’re doing is working, and they’ll become more protective of their schedules to pursue the goals.
If the benchmarks are too far out, belief will wane and old habits will creep in. The vision and strategy will be at great risk. And likely you will be holding the vision by yourself.
So create clear benchmarks that take steps towards your vision and strategy in a way that encourages success and confidence to push forward. It’s up to you to create the game of your business to be winnable. Not easy. But winnable. No one is motivated by a game they have no belief they can win.
Not everyone on your team needs to think strategically, nor do they need to be visionary. It is very likely that the daily execution of your vision and strategy will require more tactical thinkers, people who pay attention to the details. Make sure you are clear on each person’s critical strengths and what your team or organization needs to achieve your goals.
Just like a championship sports team, there are very clear roles needed to achieve greatness, but you don’t need a team full of superstars. That would likely fail, actually. You need a team of complementary parts and shared leadership, but you should also be open to different ways of thinking and leading and empower your team to take risks, push past the fear of failure and innovate.
I know there is a lot more to the achievement of vision and execution but if you get these right, I would put my money on your team and organization becoming a very high achieving group.