Will Salyards
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Will Salyards, PhD Blog

Life, Career, Leadership

The Double Myth in Vision

If you've been around leadership for any amount of time then you already know the importance of vision. People must have a sense of direction and it's the leader's job to come up with it. Right? Not all would agree. In fact, some see this proposition as being the myths within vision. Myth #1: People Must Have a Sense of Direction The truth is that member’s don't care as much about our vision as they do in having help to live out the values it espouses. What members do want from their leaders is that we provide a practical means of integrating vision into their living.

It’s leaders and those who work closest with them that derive the most meaning from a vision, not members. This difference in value is real and we fall into its common trap when we tell ourselves that if we can just make what we see more plain more people will get on board. Nothing is farther from the truth. People will get on board when they believe we've taken care of what concerns them. Put simply, people follow our lead for two reasons: 1) we're energetic, capable, and insightful and 2) we sustain their community. It's not so clear that we're followed for our vision statement or where we say we’re going.

I’ve seen the truth of this as leaders, in their determination that the organization advances, push forward regardless the hardship. However, for the people living the processes of the vision, determination wasn't the issue. Instead it came down to the question of "how does this better my life?"

I think it means that communicating our vision isn’t the key motivator to achievement but that enacting it in ways that sustain community is. It could also mean that leaders attempting significant change would be well served to consider two things: First, to cast their vision in the language of community and second, to support the activities that strengthen it.

Myth #2: It's the Leader's Job to Come up with the Vision When creating a vision that requires member’s participation for its achievement, it’s good leadership to involve them. We commonly think of this as "collaboration" and it stands in stark contrast to the solo leader, who seemingly gifted with all knowledge, blithely plans for the group. But could there be a third way, one that admits insight or intuition?

Sacred and ancient writings say there is. One text reads, "Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint" and deals with a sense of knowing that emanates from another place. But that's not all: this “whole-listic revelation/vision" also infuses the group with harmony in part because what is considered is discussed among them and in fact, emerges from within them. Insight or even intuition, the point is that beyond goals and objectives - all good stuff - is the idea of leaders listening to sensory knowledge before taking charge.

"But people expect me to provide direction." Actually, that isn't true; people expect you to follow the direction that is in their best interest. Isn't it telling that when questioned about some aspect of their vision, the ancients would often seek clarity by stopping to reflect? Did that make them seem less sure or merely underscore that they were clear about which plans were theirs and which weren't? The ground under leaders is most firm when we speak a holistic vision for the organization that recognizes members contributions and concerns along with goals and objectives as well as the full environmental scan of sensory knowledge too. The attitude of members confirms this.

Would it be helpful to talk about these things? Schedule your free coaching session now.