If you’re a leader you have a vision. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Your vision is the starting point to make your organization better in some way. It’s supposed to bring about positive change and consumes a sizable portion of your organization’s resources in doing so. But, we all know that not all visions become realities. They start off with such flair but can burn out before they are achieved. Making your vision become a reality is what separates the great leaders from the good ones.
If you want to insure that your vision becomes a reality take these three actions: don’t try and boil the ocean, learn to say no in lots of different ways, and hitch yourself to the initiatives. Let’s look at these actions in detail.
Visions always have a lot of passion and desire built into them by their creators. There are no limits in the creative genitive process and, as such, they can become massive in scope. This is not a good thing. The larger the scope of the vision the less chance there is of it successfully becoming a reality. The reason for this is that the bigger the vision, the more people need to be involved, and the harder it is to communicate the vision with clarity. Additionally, it will take more time to complete and thus, harder to keep the momentum moving in the right direction. In general, a vision should take no more than 18 months to complete; it is far enough over the horizon to constitute a vision and yet still very manageable. The vision should also have very hard edges, meaning you have to know what is included in the vision and what is not. This will become very important in the next action. And lastly, it should be very easy to communicate to others; people should be able to follow the flow of the vision and easily connect the dots.
Visions put today in the context of tomorrow. This is not to be taken literally but figuratively. Because of this, not doing the right thing today will take you away from where you are trying to go tomorrow, your vision. Visions rarely get derailed due to large unexpected events; they typically fail because they lose momentum due to attention and resource parasite attacks over time. Visions need to be protected and to successfully achieve a vision leaders need to spend twice the amount of time defending the vision as they did creating it. This means saying no to people and ideas that appear to be great opportunities in the moment but will actually dilute the efforts directed towards your vision. Yes, these new ideas may make a lot of sense and can be easily completed in a very short period of time, but it will be at the expense of the vision. Leaders must become masters of disappointing people at a pace they can handle, so as not to discourage them from pursuing your vision.
Initiatives are used to organize the efforts required to make visions become a reality. Leaders almost always delegate responsibility for managing these initiatives to their staff. It is how organizations function and how work gets done, but not all work is created equally. Rarely does a vision consume all the organization’s resources. Therefore, there will always be projects commencing at any given point in time that have nothing to do with the vision. While it may not be efficient for a leader to get actively involved in these projects it is imperative that they get involved in the initiatives of the vision. This tactic does multiple things. It shows others the level of importance of the initiatives and helps them prioritize their work accordingly. Also, if the momentum begins to drop leaders will know it right away and be able to adjust the level of intensity to correct the problem. Lastly, the leader’s level of knowledge and awareness related to the initiatives will be high enough to allow them to make real-time adjustments to resolve vision ambiguities. This will save time and reduce any frustration team members may encounter.
As you can see, having a vision only gets you so far as a leader. Making that vision a reality requires some heavy lifting on your part, but doing so will put you in another league. Follow these three actions and you will be on the trail to success.