Craft Your Vision Even When You Are Not A “Visionary”
As we grow in leadership roles, having a vision and communicating that to our teams becomes essential. Senior leaders often bring it to me as their challenge. Even though they already have a track record of delivering results, the executive level expects leaders to inspire through vision and alignment. Unfortunately, the new execs sometimes feel stuck on how else they would lead. In this article, I listed systematic ways to craft an inspiring vision.
1. Identify The Root Cause of Your Challenge
- Discomfort with Ambiguity
If you tend to be more detail-oriented and not comfortable with ambiguity, visioning could be hard for you. Some have a misconception that a vision has to be detailed. However, watching visionary leaders closer to your level could help you train your thought process otherwise.
- Too Busy with Tasks at Hand
There is never a shortage of immediate tasks. We are creatures of habits – our time will always get filled with busy work. Sometimes, avoiding an ambiguous task like “visioning” could be the real reason we hide behind the business. An overbooked brain can’t think long-term or outside the box.
- Lack of Ideas or Interest
You may need to invest time and effort to learn about the area, the industry trends, etc. If that becomes a hurdle, it could be a motivator to work with your manager or a coach to find a more suitable area for you.
So how do you start crafting a vision? First, treat this as an exercise routine that needs time and intentionality. If it is a priority, try to allocate an hour and a quiet place to get started.
2. Do The Visioning Excercise
Imagine there was no title, no externally imposed limit on you. Instead, imagine a perfect day, a moment, an interaction, a conversation, or a project when you are deeply engaged, you are talking, listening, or thinking.
Jot down that experience. Pick whatever is the most natural medium for you; it could be a written or a visual form. But try to capture it as it comes – the more, the better. Don’t judge or restrict yourself. Don’t try to shortcut the process and jump to a rational conclusion. The purpose is to tap into your brain’s conscious and subconscious knowledge. As you capture, answer the following questions.
Where are you physically?
Describe the environment, the room, and the ambiance that came to your imagination.
Who Are You With?
Describe the people in terms of their qualities, attitudes, and behavior and not for their titles or job roles.
What Topics are You Working On?
List all that comes to your mind; it doesn’t have to be specific. Pay attention to the quality of the conversation or the experience.
What Impact Are You Creating?
The impact or result could be small or big, but more important is you can sense it and are inspired by it.
3. Keep Your Expectations Relaxed
Please be mindful that it won’t be perfect on the first try. Nor is it a task to check off of your list. The important thing is to give yourself some downtime/daydreaming time and get started.
During the process, notice the emotions that emerge. Capture those without trying to suppress them. Allow distressing emotions like sadness, anger, and fear to surface, as well as joy, love, and happiness. A genuine vision usually gives us pleasant feelings coupled with fear and anxiety.
4. Reflect On What You Have Captured
See what ideas or opportunities in your job role come closer to what you have captured. Then carve out those areas, focus on what you can influence and be intentional to express, and follow through to create that vision.
If your vision is very different from your job, consider a change. If that’s not possible, try a volunteering opportunity to pursue that.
A client of mine, a new VP of Engineering, let’s call her Kathy, had this challenge. When I collected 360-feedback for her, it was clear that she was very good at delivering engineering projects but lacked inspiration. However, through our work, Kathy connected with her authentic vision and eventually translated it into an inspiration for her team.