Image by Kikasz

Image by Kikasz

As a leader from time to time I become frustrated that my vision for my organization has not yet become our vision. The “our” in that changes depending on what I’m leading. At times I mean my immediate working team, or my employees. At other times I mean my bosses or my board. I also have experienced this in terms of my entire congregation at church.

Here’s what it feels like for me at these times (perhaps you can relate):

[check_list]- What I’m leading feels stuck.
– Our work isn’t moving fast enough to outpace demand.
– We are eating up resources and time without the required results.
– My plans doing seem to be going far enough.
– My efforts lack momentum… I always seem to be pushing uphill not downhill.
– I talk a good deal about the vision, but I feel lonely in trying to accomplish it.
– Those closest to me still don’t “get it” like I would expect them to by now.
– People complain to me about things and I don’t understand why things aren’t clicking for them.
– The key players for success don’t put the effort into the vision that I expect them too.
[/check_list]

I’ve come to admit many inter-related problems inhibit my vision from becoming our vision, and the first is an…

Investment Problem
Realization: I am generating interest but not involvement

I find that those in the target audience for my work are not invested in what is happening like I want them to be. Their ownership is not apparent. They talk about what is happening in the third person, and never the first. They never refer to it as “our” event, ministry, or work… It is always “yours.” They may have some interest in what is happening when we talk but they are not truly involved in it. They don’t seem to respond to calls for action nor do they follow up on their interest. Our investment is a mile wide of interest and an inch deep of involvement.

I’ve noticed that when someone opens up a yearbook, the first thing they do is look for their own picture in it, or those of their kids. Like a yearbook, people process my project first by looking for their place in it. They need to see that picture first. So better to start with invovlement, not marketting. Marketting is less critical than early investment by the target audience, or rather, marketting toward truly shared vision is mostly achieved through invovlement, not advertising and promotion.

The solution to this investment problem lies in generating involvement. Too often my hope is to generate interest in what I am doing, and then follow up on that interest to motivate action. I have realized that I should start with the same question my interested target audience is asking: “what is my role in this?” I need to find a way to generate early and deep invovlement in my work, so people own it truly, through picturing their present or future invovlement in what is happening.

So with my team members, instead of merely being excited about a coming event, I need to cast a vision for how that team member will be involved, and what will be expected and needed from them. That is not for later in the journey, that is for the beginning. They need to see their face in the yearbook first. If I’ve got a major event coming up, I need to think of all the major groups I want to be there, to own it enough to sign up, register, etc. So I need to cast a vision for their place in the picture in this case too. I cannot do this for thousands, but I can describe whole categories of people that most will relate to, and they begin to see their face in the crowd.

Until people can find their face in my vision picture they will not find their place in my vision, so they will not make it our vision. It will remain mine alone. But as a leader, if I can generate involvement and go beyond mere interest, my vision will begin to become our vision.

Continue on to Part 2 on Why MY vision is not yet OUR vision: “Direction Problem

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