Imagine a group of people hiking in the wilderness. The person guiding the group points and says, “that mountain top is our destination!” Everyone looks, but because it’s so foggy they can’t see the mountain or its top. Without the guide, the group might make it to a mountain top, but how could they be sure it’s the right one. Take that same situation on a clear day. The guide comes to clearing and points to to the visible mountain. The team could see the mountain, the mountain top, and they could also see the terrain that comes before the mountain. They could see the river that they have to cross, the forrest that they have to go through. They could now mentally prepare for the journey ahead. And if the guide were to leave for some reason, the group could continue in the direction of the mountain with little supervision.
As a leader, the vision that you set before your team will either help you or hinder you. Setting a clear vision of what you expect is the first thing you should do before taking on any task, role, project, anything. Even if you are at the bottom of your organization, setting clear expectations will help you, and those working with you, understand what you are doing. Even when it comes to goal setting for yourself. You need to have a clear vision for your year, or your life, depending on how far you are planning out. Without that picture you are basically just doing busy work, moving around aimlessly. With a clear vision, your steps will have purpose.
How do you know if you have a clear vision?
1) Is there a clear destination or is the outcome visible? Reaching the mountain top is visible. Getting 10 new customers is visible. Doing a better job is not visible. The outcome needs to be specific enough for everyone to know when you have hit the mark. People want to see you hit the bullseye, so show them the target and fire. They will cheer you on.
2) Are people asking a ton of questions? If your team is asking alot of questions, it’s because they are trying to paint the picture themselves. They can’t see it with the description that you gave, so they are asking for clarity. Too much fog. Help them by painting a clear picture, it will save you the trouble of having to clarify things after time and resources have been spent.
3) Could you leave someone in charge to make decisions for the group? When someone could take the reins and drive for a bit because they know where you are headed. When someone could step in while you are out (sick, vacation, other) and still keep your ship headed in the right direction. This is a true mark of having a clear vision.
Setting the vision for yourself or your team is like painting a mental picture. You have to be able to see it and describe it in a way that the next person could do the same.
Look over your goals for 2013. Are they clear and specific? Try describing each one outloud and if you can’t picture it in your minds-eye, don’t worry about it, it will come to you… just keep painting.