If Leadership is Keeping a Vision, Then Everyone on the Team Must Be A Leader

March 30th, 2012 by Kelly Kienzle

Every person on a team or in an organization needs to be a leader.  Yes, an individual leader needs to be identified to organize a team and assign responsibilities, yet each person also needs to embody a few key skills of leadership as well.

One of these skills is keeping a vision.  The designated leader may receive the inspiration to create the vision, but everyone on the team needs to believe in it for the vision to be kept and followed.

Imagine a stagecoach with a team of horses, tired and hungry from a long, dusty journey.  The stagecoach driver conceives the initial vision of reaching the inn, but he needs the strength and skill of each horse to reach that destination.  Each horse knows they are heading for home, though they have different reasons for wanting to reach their destination: food, warmth, rest, a cozy cup of timothy tea.

So what does it mean to keep a vision?  It means tapping into each person’s personal reasons for wanting to pursue that vision.  It’s finding out what makes each of us tick or spurs us on.  And to do that, we need to talk about our vision and then listen to how it resonates with each member of the team.

Here are a few questions to spark a dialogue with your team members as you shape your vision.  I recommend having these conversations one-on-one to encourage openness and frankness.  In fact, consider this meeting more of an interview in which you do little talking other than to ask questions.

  • To begin, explain your vision in the broadest strokes.
    Speak of the ultimate goal you wish to achieve.  Avoid specifics, data, numbers, role assignments, etc.

Then begin the questions…

  • “What part of this idea makes you most excited?”
    Listen carefully for the level of emotion in their voice.  If they sound uninterested, briefly explain what problem you believe your idea could solve.
  • “What do you believe is the most important element of this vision?”
    Later, use their answer to this question as the likely best place to ask for their leadership.
  • “What is the one element of this plan that you would change?”
    This question engages them on what they worry most about your idea.  Make sure you understand this concern fully.
  • “What is another element you would change?”
    Repeating this question shows that you are open to critical feedback and, in fact, view it as necessary for success.
  • “How would our workplace/team/organization be different if this goal were achieved?”
    This question gives them a goal to shoot for – – specifically a goal that they personally can see.
  • “What kinds of emotions come up for you when you think about participating in this idea?”
    If your workplace is like so many others and it is an unspoken rule to not discuss emotions, then ask them to rate their interest/excitement on 1-5 scale.  Numbers are always safe.
  • “How much time/energy/resources would you be willing to commit to help realize this goal?”
    If they offer less help than you’d like, accept it for now and ask again after they’ve seen some initial positive results.
  • “What is the first step you would like to do to get this idea launched?”
    After they respond, specifically ask them if they will commit to completing that step by a specific date.
  • “Who else do you think we should ask to be part of this effort?”
    Here you can not only get another potential teammate identified, but you’ve just added another invested recruiter to your team too.

Now, you have gained some valuable feedback on your idea, engaged your first team member in the vision, and identified at least one more.  And all through one conversation with you doing minimal talking.  Giddyup!

If you would like support on delivering one of these conversations, I would be happy to assist you.  You may contact me for a brief discussion on how I could be most helpful to you.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

– Henry Ford

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