“If you think you're leading, but no one is following, then you are only taking a walk.” - John Maxwell
How horrifying to turn around and realize the people you were leading are now far behind. To realize, as John Maxwell says, that you're no longer a leader - you're just going for a walk.
One of the keys to avoiding this situation is to inspire a shared vision. If your people can see what you see and believe what you believe then they'll follow where you go.
But HOW exactly do you inspire a shared vision?
Here are 30 ways to inspire a shared vision:
1. Articulate a clear vision
To inspire a shared vision, leaders must first articulate a clear and compelling picture of the future they want to create. This is important because a shared vision gives everyone a common goal to work towards, which creates a sense of purpose and meaning.
Where do you see your team and organization in ten years from now? To get some extreme vision for yourself, ask, "Who do I want to be at my funeral? And what do I want them to say?" Don't try to create the perfect vision. Just get as clear as possible on what the picture looks like. And consistently paint that picture for anyone and everyone on your team.
2. Communicate with enthusiasm
Leaders who communicate their vision with enthusiasm and energy are more likely to inspire and motivate their followers. This is important because people are more likely to be engaged and committed when they are excited about the vision. I find stories one of the best ways to communicate passionately. What are the absolute best stories that 'represent' the vision of your team and organization? Share those stories all the time.
3. Foster a positive attitude
A positive attitude is contagious and can help to create an environment where people are more likely to work together towards a shared goal. This is important because a positive attitude can create momentum and help overcome obstacles. To implement this, leaders should model a positive attitude, recognize and celebrate successes, and encourage a culture of positivity within their team.
4. Lead by example
Leaders who model the behavior they want to see in others are more likely to earn the trust and respect of their followers. This is important because people are more likely to follow a leader they trust and respect. There's that saying that people can't be what they can't see. You need to model the vision in how you live your life. Help people see where you're going by watching how you live and work.
5. Empower others
Leaders who empower their followers by giving them the tools, resources, and authority they need to succeed are more likely to create a culture of innovation and creativity. This is important because empowered team members are more likely to take ownership and feel invested in the success of the team. To implement this, leaders should delegate responsibilities and provide opportunities for growth and development.
6. Encourage creativity
Encouraging creativity and innovation can help to foster a sense of ownership and engagement among team members. This is important because creativity can lead to new and innovative ideas that can drive success. To implement this, leaders should provide opportunities for brainstorming and idea sharing, recognize and reward creative thinking, and create a safe space for experimentation and risk-taking.
7. Foster a culture of collaboration
A culture of collaboration can help to break down silos and create a more cohesive team. This is important because collaboration can lead to better decision-making and more effective problem-solving. To implement this, leaders should encourage teamwork, establish clear goals and expectations, and provide opportunities for cross-functional collaboration.
8. Develop your listening skills
Good listening skills are essential for effective communication and can help to build trust and rapport with your followers. This is important because people are more likely to be open and honest when they feel heard and understood. To implement this, leaders should actively listen to their team members, ask open-ended questions, and provide feedback to show that they are engaged and interested.
9. Embrace diversity
Embracing diversity can help to create a more inclusive and innovative team. This is important because diverse perspectives and experiences can lead to more creative solutions and better decision-making. To implement this, leaders should create a culture of respect and inclusivity, provide opportunities for diversity training, and actively seek out diverse perspectives.
10. Encourage feedback
Encouraging feedback can help to create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. This is important because feedback can lead to continuous improvement and growth. To implement this, leaders should provide opportunities for feedback, actively listen to suggestions, and create a culture of openness and transparency.
11. Practice patience
Patience is essential when working towards a shared vision as it takes time to achieve big goals. This is important because impatience can lead to frustration and burnout. To implement this, leaders should set realistic timelines and expectations, celebrate small wins along the way, and be patient.
12. Foster a culture of learning
A culture of learning can help to create a more agile and adaptable team. Encouraging continuous learning can improve skills, knowledge, and creativity, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making. Leaders should encourage learning opportunities and provide resources and support for their team members to learn and grow.
13. Encourage flexibility
Encouraging flexibility can help to create a more adaptable and resilient team. Adapting to changing circumstances is essential for success, and flexible team members can adjust to new challenges and opportunities. Leaders should be open to new ideas and encourage their team to be flexible and creative.
14. Develop time management skills
Good time management skills are essential for staying on track and achieving goals. Time management helps to prioritize tasks, manage workload, and improve productivity. Leaders should lead by example and provide training and support to help their team members develop time management skills.
15. Set clear goals
Setting clear goals can help to provide direction and focus for your team. Clear goals help to align team members towards a shared vision and improve motivation and engagement. Leaders should communicate goals clearly, provide feedback and support, and celebrate achievements.
16. Develop a strategy
A clear strategy can help to guide your team towards achieving its goals. A strategy helps to prioritize actions, allocate resources, and coordinate efforts towards a shared vision. Leaders should involve their team in developing a strategy, communicate it clearly, and adapt it as needed.
17. Inspire with your actions
Leaders who inspire with their actions are more likely to earn the respect and loyalty of their followers. Inspiring leaders lead by example, demonstrate passion and commitment, and create a sense of purpose and meaning for their team. Leaders should be authentic and consistent in their actions and communicate their vision with enthusiasm and energy.
18. Foster a culture of empowerment
A culture of empowerment can help to create a more engaged and motivated team. Empowering team members involves giving them the freedom and authority to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Leaders should provide support, feedback, and recognition, and create a safe and supportive environment for their team members to learn and grow.
19. Lead with values
Leaders who lead with values are more likely to create a sense of purpose and meaning for their team. Leading with values involves setting clear expectations, being consistent and transparent, and demonstrating integrity and respect. Leaders should communicate their values clearly, live by them, and encourage their team members to do the same.
20. Develop coaching skills
Good coaching skills are essential for developing the potential of your team. Coaching involves providing feedback, guidance, and support to help team members grow and achieve their goals. Leaders should listen actively, ask open-ended questions, provide constructive feedback, and recognize achievements.
21. Encourage collaboration
Encouraging collaboration can help to create a more cohesive and effective team. Collaboration involves working together towards a shared goal, leveraging diverse skills and perspectives, and building trust and respect. Leaders should encourage teamwork, provide opportunities for collaboration, and recognize and celebrate team achievements.
22. Develop resilience
Resilience is essential for overcoming setbacks and achieving success. Resilient team members can adapt to changing circumstances, learn from failures, and persevere towards their goals. Leaders should provide support, recognize achievements, and encourage their team members to learn from setbacks and mistakes.
23. Foster innovation
Fostering innovation can help to create a more dynamic and forward-thinking team. Innovation involves exploring new ideas, experimenting, and taking calculated risks. Leaders should encourage creativity, provide resources and support for innovation, and recognize and celebrate innovative ideas and solutions.
24. Practice problem-solving
Practice problem-solving to develop your skills and help your team overcome obstacles. Problem-solving involves identifying challenges, analyzing the root causes, generating and evaluating solutions, and implementing and monitoring the best option. Leaders should encourage problem-solving skills, provide training and support, and recognize and celebrate successful problem-solving.
25. Foster a growth mindset
Developing a growth mindset involves seeing challenges as opportunities for growth, and believing that you and your team can improve and learn from mistakes. This is important because it can help to create a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. To implement this, leaders should encourage risk-taking, provide opportunities for learning and development, and offer constructive feedback to help team members grow.
26. Embrace change
Change is inevitable, and leaders who can embrace it and adapt quickly are more likely to succeed in today's fast-paced business environment. This is important because it can help to create a more resilient and agile team that can respond to new opportunities and challenges. To implement this, leaders should communicate the benefits of change, be open to new ideas, and provide the support and resources necessary to facilitate a smooth transition.
27. Lead with inspiration
Leaders who inspire with their words and actions can create a sense of purpose and meaning for their team, which can lead to higher levels of engagement and motivation. This is important because it can help to drive your team towards achieving its goals. To implement this, leaders should communicate a clear and compelling vision, lead by example, and recognize and celebrate team achievements.
28. Utilize video and podcasts
Video and podcasts can be powerful tools for communicating your vision and inspiring your team in an engaging and interactive way. This is important because it can help to create a more connected and cohesive team. To implement this, leaders should create video messages and podcasts that are authentic, engaging, and relevant to their team, and encourage feedback and discussion.
29. Keep an open mind
Keeping an open mind and being receptive to new ideas and perspectives can help to foster innovation and creativity within your team. This is important because it can lead to new opportunities and solutions that may not have been discovered otherwise. To implement this, leaders should encourage their team to share their ideas and opinions, actively listen to what they have to say, and be willing to consider new approaches.
30. Incorporate the 5 Practices
Incorporating the 5 Practices of exemplary leadership can help to create a strong foundation for leadership success. This is important because it can help to create a culture of excellence and high performance. To implement this, leaders should model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. This involves leading by example, communicating a clear vision, encouraging innovation and risk-taking, empowering team members, and recognizing and celebrating team achievements.
Inspiring a shared vision is essential for successful leadership. Without a clear and compelling vision, leaders risk falling short of their goals and losing the trust and commitment of their followers. By implementing the 30 ways to inspire a shared vision outlined in this article, leaders can foster a culture of positivity, creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning that can help to drive their team towards achieving its goals.
By modeling the behavior they want to see in others, communicating with enthusiasm, and empowering their followers, leaders can create a shared vision that inspires their team to follow them towards success.