Creating a Shared Vision for Your Team Increases Engagement
Whether your team is working virtually, or in person, creating cohesion and inspiring others is more important for leaders than ever before. One of the key practice areas effective leaders demonstrate is to Inspire a Shared Vision.
Inspiring a shared vision helps employees engage in and see a deeper meaning in their daily work, instead of feeling as if they are performing routine tasks that don’t contribute to the bigger picture.
In The Leadership Challenge, authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have shown how leaders can practice leadership behaviors (called The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®) to be more successful, improve employee engagement, and increase their organization’s financial performance.
With 35 years of research, Kouzes and Posner have concluded that looking into the past is important to help us identify why we care about certain things and understand why making things better in the future is vital for success. By studying and understanding the past, we are better able to imagine a vision for the future and inspire others to find their roles in creating this future.
Two basic aspects of how leaders can Inspire a Shared Vision:
- Define your vision of the future: Achieve clarity around your ideal future so you can better explain it to others
- Bring others along by working toward a shared vision: Understand others’ aspirations for the future and how enlisting in your vision can help them achieve those aspirations
4 Tips to Inspire a Shared VisionConsider these tips, along with quotes from Kouzes and Posner to help guide your vision:
- Like many others, you may have shifted to working on a virtual team, and now may be ready to shift back again. How has the nature of your work changed, and how have your employees? Schedule time for yourself to think about the past and the present and how both inform the future you hope to see for your organization: "Leaders envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities. You need to have an appreciation for the past and a clear image of what the results should look like even before starting any project, much as an architect draws a blueprint, or an engineer builds a model..."*
- On your next 1:1 or online meeting, ask others about their aspirations and goals for the future and how they see themselves fitting into the greater organizational picture. How has that changed for them through the pandemic? "Innovation comes more from listening than from telling, and from constantly looking outside of yourself and your organization for new and innovative products, processes, and services. You need to search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve."*
- Show others how a shared vision for the team can help them achieve their long-term aspirations: "You can't command commitment; you have to inspire it. You have to enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations."*
- Regularly check in and speak with others about progress toward the team’s vision of the future: "Call it what you will - vision, purpose, mission, legacy, dream, aspiration, calling, or personal agenda - the intent is the same. If you are going to be an exemplary leader, you have to be able to imagine a positive future."*
To understand how often and how well you are inspiring a shared vision, it’s also important to reflect regularly.
Questions to ask yourself - and your team - as you improve on Inspire a Shared Vision:
- Where do I see myself in 10 years?
- How do I talk about my vision for the future?
- What big-picture goals do I see for the team’s future?
- Do I show others where they fit in this vision of the future?
- Do I make others part of this shared future?
- Do I think about the future often enough?