Leadership - The Test of a Clear Vision

by : mwshead

Many leaders assume that everyone understands their vision. Often there is a big gap between their vision and what the people they lead see as the vision. Unfortunately many leaders don't take the time to actually find out how well they have expressed their vision to their team. They often assume that because they are in charge people listen and understand what they mean to say, even if it isn't exactly what they really said. They also assume that people will hear the same thing that they said. This isn't always the case. Everyone perceives things differently and a skillful leader recognizes this.

The most successful leaders are those who can clearly communicate the vision in ways that their organization can easily understand. Successful leaders don't assume that what they think they communicated is what people heard. They constantly check to make sure that the vision they are communicating is the vision people are hearing. In many instances there is a large gap between what a leader thinks he said and what subordinates think they hear.

When the vision is uncertain, people tend to default to doing whatever vision seems best to them. In a medium sized organization I heard one of the vice presidents gave his opinion on a branding issue and then casually mentioned how it aligned with the vision. However, the vision he articulated was very different from the CEO's vision. In fact the vice presidents view of the CEO's vision was 180 degrees from what the CEO had articulated as his vision. This was not the vice president's fault. I'm sure the CEO thought he had communicated the vision clearly, but the test of a well-communicated vision is whether or not the people responsible for implementing the vision correctly understand it.

A very simple way to test your organization's vision alignment is ask people to write down the vision anonymously on a piece of paper in a short paragraph. Keeping the process anonymous helps people concentrate more on articulating the vision and less on worrying about getting it wrong or any repercussions from an incorrect answer . Once you get the feedback read over each and every vision statement.

If everyone comes back and states the vision exactly as you feel you've communicated it, consider yourself fortunate. Most of the time this will not be the case. You will probably discover that what people see as the vision, is not what you thought you communicated. By taking this information and attempting to discover the sources of the miscommunication you can prepare yourself to better communicate your vision in the future.