How to align teams behind a vision

Clarifying a vision and aligning the team behind the vision is the ultimate leadership accountability. This is one of the profound expectations of leadership - setting the right direction for followers.

The benefits are phenomenal. Teams aligned behind a vision have real power to influence and impact both individual and organisational success. Such teams have a sense of purpose and meaning, a sense of flow, personal wholeness and they feel alive. They aren’t merely running, but they know why they are running, what they are running for and where they are running to.  

Success begins with a visionary leader, who can picture what greatness would look like, who can picture a future that is different from the present. Such a leader then assembles the team to paint the vision, the aspirations, dreams and desires to achieve greatness.  

Creating a meaningful vision takes teamwork. As a leader you need to be prepared to ask your team tough questions, stretching their imagination out of the comfort zone, to visualise the ideal future.

Lead your team in exploring questions like:

• Where do we want to go as a team and why?
• What is this team here to serve and accomplish?
• What will make us proud? How do we want to differentiate ourselves?
• What impact can we make?
• What legacy do we want to leave behind?

The team can create a vision board to depict these aspirations. A shared vision is then crystalised into a concise summary, stating what needs to be achieved and why. Team members understand and internalise, own, and embody the vision through their behaviors. It is motivational and inspirational.

It takes skill to understand and master the art of aligning teams behind a shared vision.

These are some of the profound benefits of aligning your team behind a vision:
 
Create clarity of direction: The team knows, agrees on and is passionate about where they are going. They begin to see the same picture, experience that they are facing the same direction and they can all focus on what is important.

Create a compelling and exciting story: It rallies everyone to ‘jump out of bed’ and to run towards what is most important, something bigger than the team. Team members feel challenged and commit themselves to make a difference and a meaningful contribution. All team members understand it, articulate it and own it. They refer to it; it is meaningful and exciting. It keeps them inspired.

Create a path to excellence: The team can be intentional and purposeful about achieving success when they have clarity and are aligned on what success looks like. They develop collective accountability. They can identify and remove obstacles that block the realisation of the vision and can embrace behaviours and values that will bring their vision to life.

Create meaning: Vision gives a team meaning of what they need to do and why. Team members pursue their passion and their hunger to fulfill their purpose. They feel nourished and energised to execute relentlessly and with discipline to produce results. It drives behaviours and fuels motivation.

As a leader be intentional in crafting a meaningful and inspirational vision. Make it stick through consistent and inspirational communication. Consistently make vision part of your story and narrative and celebrate success stories. Make your vision dynamic, nurture and review it regularly, refer to it, and allow it to guide behaviours, priorities and decisions, prevent the team from derailing.

Lindiwe Mkhondo is a Partner at Change Partners.

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