Vision can be defined as a preferred future. Phil Jackson, the current coach of the LA Lakers basketball team, once said that “vision is the source of leadership”. I agree because leadership without vision is simply a recipe for confusion. An appropriate metaphor for a vision is a map. Without one, the leader and his followers will be lost. A vision helps the leader navigate the journey ahead.
About a year ago, I listened to a leadership podcast by Andy Stanley (available below) which completely revolutionised my thinking on the importance of developing a sticky vision statement. This was around the time I was developing the blue print for Horeb International, my company. I had a vague idea about the vision and mission of the company but I needed to crystallise it. This meant several weeks of active brainstorming about the company’s vision. The time was spent identifying what would be the company’s unique selling point, as well as its core competencies. I had a set of probing questions to help me uncover these key things.
A leader needs to make his vision sticky if he wants to get buy-in from both his team and strangers. The key ingredient of a sticky vision is a simple, clear and compelling statement. If the vision is unclear for the leader then his followers will end up confused. The simpler a vision, the more time has been invested crafting, simplifying and narrowing it down. Time spent clarifying a vision is not wasted time. It is a very crucial time. Sticky visions are memorable, portable and transferable. People are always eager to share a sticky vision. But if a vision is unclear then it will either be misinterpreted or it will be ignored.
Most leaders make the mistake of communicating everything about their vision instead of communicating the essential or main idea especially when dealing with large audiences. This approach is unsuccessful because people are busy and don’t have the time to process superfluous information. Pareto Law states that 20% of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead (s) to 80% of the results, outputs, or rewards. Leaders need to identify the essential 20% of their big vision and focus their time and energy communicating that essential 20% to the right people.
The result of the time devoted to crafting Horeb International’s vision statement and core competencies last year is the simple diagram above. As you can see, both the vision statement and the company’s core competencies are aligned. This diagram communicates the essential 20% information about the company’s vision and mission. What is your sticky leadership vision and is it memorable and portable for its intended audience?
Listen to this leadership podcast (24 minutes) by Andy Stanley on “stating vision simply” which led to a paradigm shift for me and I hope it will for you too.