The ability to imagine a future is a key ingredient for successful leadership. However, when that future is not translated in a way others can understand in the present, the reality of the imagined future diminishes. Moreover, a future established by a single individual’s imagination may fall short in the ability to manifest in others when they are not involved in creating it.
These are primary considerations for developing a shared vision. A leader should be intentional about addressing them in the ongoing process of designing, articulating, and implementing vision within their organizations.
Drawing A Pathway To Future Possibilities
As a leader develops vision, they must have a keen understanding of what is occurring around them. From there, a visionary leader can draw a pathway to a place of future possibilities. Kouzes & Posner (2017) state, “To be able to envision the future, you have to realize what’s already going on. You have to spot the trends and patterns and appreciate both the whole and the parts. You have to be able to see the forest and the trees. Imagine the future as a jigsaw puzzle. You see the pieces, and you begin to figure out how they fit together, one by one, into a whole” (pp 102-103).
A great way to begin fitting the pieces of a puzzle together is to arrange the pieces strategically. A leader will align those pieces to allow them to see the uniqueness of each piece and then have access to align those pieces when needed.
Envisioning The ‘More and Before’
A hallmark trait of a well-developed leader is the ability to see the challenges and opportunities of the future ahead of others. Maxwell (2018) calls this an ability to see more and before. Leaders can advance these abilities to see more than others can see and to see things before others can see them by
a) knowing there is more to be seen;
b) developing a proactive process to find more;
c) spending time with inspirational people;
d) asking questions to begin an exchange of information;
e) being intentional about everyday growth (Maxwell).
Understanding Conditions For Healthy Growth and Vision
Leadership visionary growth is similar to what happens with produce. If a grape or gourd becomes unattached to the vine, it is no longer gaining vital nutrients to help it remain healthy and become fully developed. Without the direct connection to those nutrients via the vine, a grape or gourd can look good for a little while, but it won’t be long until it begins to shrivel up and die. The same can be said for leaders. If a leader isn’t intentionally connected to a “vine of nutrients,” they will not remain healthy or grow to their full potential.
Sometimes, a leader serves to help tend the garden in an effort to create “fruits and vegetables” upon which others can feed. “The point of having a vision in the first place is to create something bigger than you – something others can relate to, believe in, and even carry forward once you’re gone” (Craig).
Successful leaders are adept at finding the right timing and the best ways to express their vision to others. A leader has to know when the conditions are suitable for planting new seeds and who is best able to help tend to those seeds so that a future harvest can be fully realized. If a leader articulates their vision in a way that is understood by – and instills excitement in and contributions from – their followers, their vision has an excellent chance of finding success within the organization.
Do you need guidance to create a vision for the team you lead? Contact the team at Achieve Onward to set up a vision casting session.
Craig, W. (2019). How to Create a Shared Vision in Your Organization. Retrieved from:
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The Leadership Challenge (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Maxwell, J. C. (2018). Developing the Leader Within You 2.0. Nashville, TN: HarperCollins