Communicating Vision

Photo by  Mai Li

Photo by Mai Li

Every good leader knows that communicating vision is essential. They know that vision is the visual in the mind's eye about where their company is going. How they get to a shared destination is defined by that vision, but in order for everyone in the company to understand where they going, the leader must communicate that vision with clarity. Taking it a step further, the CEO's (or any other leader's) vision must be fully transferable.

So, how does a CEO communicate and share the vision?

1. Build Consensus
As a strong leader, you may already feel you have a complete and fully-baked vision to reveal to your team. In fact, strong vision is critical for good leadership. But just because you have it and you've shared a presentation on the subject doesn't mean you're done. To achieve true buy-in, it is essential for a leader to LISTEN first to make sure everyone feels like they've been heard and has had a role in developing the vision. The second benefit to this approach is that your team, having a sense of ownership over the newfound vision, will be much more likely to buy in to the new thinking.

2. Paint with Words
To make sure everyone is truly on the same page, you must get crystal clear. That means painting a picture of what WILL HAVE happened in great detail. This should come in the form of a vision narrative, detailing each important change or new reality so that a story emerges of how the future is different from the present. It may be written as individual facets or bullet points or visceral description of the big idea. The key here is to include as many iconic and descriptive points as possible so that everyone will recognize what success looks like when they reach it.

3. Utilize Powerful Visuals
Why do architects use photorealistic renderings of their designs to present to their clients for buy-in and approval? The answer, of course, is that renderings are much more compelling, true-to life, and easier to envision than a blueprint could ever be. So while engineering drawings are essential for building safely, effectively and hopefully on budget, it is the renderings which carry the vision to all relevant stakeholders—especially the paying customer. So the lesson here is to utilize visuals when communicating your vision for the future. The more accurate and refined these visuals are (as opposed to using basic icons or free clip art) the better chance you will have of your team catching the vision. It pays to have a good designer or creative team to interpret your vision narrative with strong and powerful visuals which will carry the message much father and faster.

4. Rinse and Repeat
If it's important, you must repeat your vision over and over again, to make a lasting imprint. It should be the thing you start each meeting with, make plans to deliver against, measure your results against, and ultimately define success by. It also should be, in the end, simple enough to memorize and easy enough for quick reference. The big ideas that come out of your vision should be repeatable and memorable by every person inside your organization.

By utilizing these core practices, CEOs and other leaders will be able to transfer their powerful and unique vision to their team, so that everyone from top to bottom will be able to work together in a common pursuit. 

If you are a CEO or executive leader looking to engage in vision casting, contact me for help in developing and communicating a new radical vision for your company with transformative results.