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The photo in this post is one I took several years ago.

For many years I arranged most of our travel plans based on top shark-diving locations around the world. When we decided to go to Australia, I began my typical obsessive researching of the best companies.

At that time, only two boats took people on live-aboard diving trips to the outer regions of the Great Barrier Reef. We picked one and began planning.

As soon as we boarded the boat that we would call home for the next 5 days, the crew began describing what we could expect from our upcoming experience—pristine coral reefs, whales, dolphins, and huge shark populations were all probable things we would see.

They played high definition videos of recent trips, and the buzz of excitement and energy in our fellow divers was palpable. I could hardly sleep imagining what we might see the next morning when we strapped on our dive gear.

Now that was a compelling vision for the future!

Great leaders create this kind of powerful imagery for their teams.

Leadership expert John Maxwell says that your team can rarely see your vision as clearly as you do. Therefore, you must continually find ways to help them see where you are going and where they fit in.

And great vision isn’t just words. It’s a sensory experience. It captures more heart than head.

I highly recommend Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk based on his bestselling book Start with Why. Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” At the time of this writing, it had over 25 million views.

“If you can see it you can build it.”

 –Daniel Harkavy, CEO & Executive Coach

A few weeks ago, we got some hand-me-down puzzles from some friends. My daughter found a princess puzzle she wanted to assemble, but we quickly realized the box with the picture on it was missing.

Needless to say, it was frustrating and very difficult to put the pieces together without knowing what image we were actually trying to create!

Leaders who don’t cast a clear vision are like people who try to put a puzzle together without the picture on the box. They may not know where they are going and it also soon becomes clear to the team that there is no clear direction for the future.

On the other hand, when your team can see the desired future state clearly, they can better see their own role and contribution in making the vision a reality. They might even decide not to take a new job if your vision of the future is compelling enough.

In this way, a great vision can lower turnover and absenteeism, and increase productivity and employee engagement.

Turn information into action

  1. Invite people into the vision. One of the most fundamental concepts of Organizational Development is this—people are more likely to carry out an idea they helped to create. As you create the vision, invite your team into the process and elicit their ideas.
  2. Keep it simple. As John Maxwell says, the simpler you keep the vision, the more likely it will catch on. Challenge yourself and try using less words. A vision that is simple will gain momentum much more quickly.
  3. Live the vision. More is caught than taught—a great mantra for workplace leadership, and for parenting. People do what they see, not what you say. If you are not a living example of the vision, there is very little likelihood that it will catch on.
  4. Repeat the vision. Financial and leadership expert Dave Ramsey has a great take on teams—“If every team member cannot immediately repeat your vision, you haven’t shared it enough.” Vision is not one and done. You must declare it with shameless repetition.

Application to family life—I once heard a speaker at a marriage retreat say that if you want to lead your family, you must show them that you are taking them to a desirable future—I love that.

Don’t limit vision casting to your work, create a compelling vision for your family too. This vision could include where you will live, memories you want to create, stable finances, and life lessons you want to pass along through generations. Your team wants to know where they are going and who they will become on the journey, and so does your family.

Have a great weekend!


*If you have enjoyed Parker’s blog, check out The Next Peak Podcast that Parker co-hosts. We interview successful leaders and discuss research-based principles that help people win in the workplace without compromising the things that matter most—relationships, a life of purpose, and health.

Suggested resources:

  1. John Maxwell- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
  2. Simon Sinek-Start with Why (Ted Talk)
  3. Daniel Harkavy- Becoming a Coaching Leader
  4. Dave Ramsey- Entreleadership
  5. Patrick Lencioni—The Advantage
Dr. Parker Houston

Parker Houston

Dr. Parker Houston is a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified in organizational psychology. He is also certified in personal and executive coaching. Parker's personal mission is to share science-based principles of psychology and timeless spiritual practices, to help people improve the way they lead themselves, their families, and their organizations. *Opinions expressed are the author's own.
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