Good Leaders Have Visions Their Team Can Actually SEE

post from
Lee Hartley Carter:
in leadership is essential.  We all know
it.  And yet, while we often can answer
the question generally with business plan answers, we can’t often paint a
picture of what that vision looks like in practice.  Often vision is couched in goals such as growing
revenue 20% in 2020 or to be #1 in one’s category by 2025.  While goals are undoubtedly important, that’s
not what I’m talking about here.  What I
am talking about is a vision that is so crystal clear you can literally visualize it—and so can everyone else
around you.  That’s what vision is all
about.  It’s no coincidence that vision
and visualize have the same linguistic origin—because that’s what vision is
meant to do.
a vision that aligns your team takes a lot of thought.  It takes reflection.  It takes getting specific.  Because if you can’t be specific, you can
become scattered, your team won’t know where you’re going, and you won’t know
success when you see it.  Without
specifics, you are likely to fail as a leader.
I was just out of college, my friend Glenn and I were having drinks when he
asked me my dream for the future.  I mumbled
through an answer along the lines of – a good job, married, kids, etc.  You know the drill.  No specifics.
Vague and somewhat meaningless.  He
looked at me with a cocked eyebrow and took another gulp of his drink.  Then he said to me, “Lee, that’s not a
dream.  A dream is specific.  A dream is visual.  When I say what’s your dream, I want you to
be able to paint a picture of exactly what it is that you want.”  I sighed, looked down at my drink and
thought, “Man, that is scary.  What if
I’m specific and then I don’t pull it off?
What if I say this out loud and sound like an idiot?”  I rolled my eyes and tried to change the
put down his drink and looked me square in the eye and said, “Let me tell
you about my dream.  15 years from now I
will be on a boat fishing with my friends, pulling up to my dock, listening to
Bob Seger. The wind will be in my hair.
I will have caught three big fish.
And my wife and daughter will be standing on the dock waiting for
me.  It will be an epic Saturday.  And I will know, just know, that I made
it.”  He said this with full
confidence, and no sense of irony.  Guess
who now has a boat he pulls to the slip, listening to Bob Seger’s “Hollywood
Nights”?  Glenn does. 
have thought of that evening so many times over the years, and it guides me
when I am teaching clients how to create compelling visions.  Your vision should be so clear that it reads
just like that.  You should be able to
feel it when you talk about it.  Everyone
on your team should be able to visualize achieving the vision.  And, maybe, just maybe, it should have its
own soundtrack!
Creating a visual vision has three key benefits:
1:  Focus
A visual vision will help you to
prioritize.  You only have so much time
in a day or mental energy and only so many resources.  If you aren’t crystal clear on what you are
trying to accomplish, you will waste time on activities that aren’t moving you
forward.  You can ask yourself, is this
choice moving me closer to my vision?  If
not, it might be counter-productive. 
2: Getting
Others on Board
The second benefit of having a visual vision
is it motivates other people to help make it happen. 
From time to time we all face burnout,
discouragement, and frustration.  Your
vision will give you at least 5 WHYs that will keep you going when things go
We all know vision
is essential to leadership.  But it’s not
just having a vision that’s enough.  You
need to be so specific that you have an exact picture of what that vision looks
like.  And once you’ve created that
vision you need to share it and repeat.
Repeat.  Repeat.  So much so that everyone on your team sees
exactly what you see. 
Hartley Carter
is the
author of Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts
Don’t Seem to Matter
, and president of maslansky + partners,
a language strategy firm based on the single idea that “It’s not what you
say, it’s what they hear,” the author of the new book, Persuasion, a
sought-after public speaker and a frequent contributor on Fox
20+ years of experience in marketing and strategic communications, Carter
manages a diverse range of language strategy work for Fortune 100 and 500
companies, trade associations, and nonprofits in the United States and
globally, helping  them to better tell their stories.