Today it’s essential to improve your strategic thinking if you want to move on from being a manager to a leader. It’s no secret that the environment in which your organization does business is always in the midst of change. One of the main requirements of a leader is the ability to devise a clear strategy for her team, department, or organization. It’s critical to develop strategic thinking. This means creating and selling a vision of a compelling possible future, and doing this in a way that influences and motivates stakeholders to follow.
Here are three compelling reasons why developing and selling a vision is such a powerful leadership tool.
Vision provides a sense of where you—and the team—are headed.
This is especially important when leading during times of uncertainty. So, how do you as a leader come to see that future and understand it? It may seem counter-intuitive, but leaders who look backward before looking forward actually look farther ahead. You can’t make progress toward the future if you are unable to understand where you came from. Your history is important, and the team or organization’s history holds much of what’s important to its members. These include values and what the people who are part of the team stand for. It’s the foundation that got them from where they were to where they are now.
A vision paints a future that inspires hope and engagement.
This is done by asking others to tap into values and their sense of future possibilities.. Ask others to dream about the future along with you. Ask them to approach this exercise with a sense of experimentation, fun, risk-taking, and standing firm on the principles to which they are committed. Vision conveys an ideal about a new and exciting concept, solution, or process—and about what success looks like. Basically, a vision is a word picture that others can see in their mind’s eye.
A vision fosters innovative thinking and risk-taking.
An inspiring vision invites stakeholders to consider new approaches, while honoring the core competences that have generated success to date. By its nature, a vision causes everyone to take a long-range, broad approach to problem solving and decision making. This encourages dreaming of what’s possible, analyzing trends, thinking ahead, and planning.
The ability to look into the future is the quality that distinguishes leaders from managers. Developing and articulating a vision serves to motivate and empower yourself and others. Practicing with a personal vision is the best way to develop the skill. In my next blog, I will describe the steps to developing and selling a vision.