5 Common Vision Mistakes and How to Fix Them

When most leaders think of vision they imagine the two-fold process of creating the vision and casting it to their team. These are important elements but the responsibility of vision implementation does not solely rest in the creation process. Rather than the actual vision getting the blame when it's not gaining traction, maybe we need to dig a little deeper into the question of why our vision is not working.

Listed below are some reflections on common vision-setting mistakes. I’ve either made these mistakes myself or been associated with leaders who could have received better results if they had paid closer attention to these elements.

Problem#1: Not describing where the vision originated.

Whether your vision comes to you from a mountaintop, or at your desk, or from team collaboration, you need to communicate it to those in your organization. Your team needs sufficient details in order to understand and have trust in where you are taking them. Some will follow blindly, but most will not. As you provide details on how you arrived at your vision, you will earn their trust.

The Fix: Spend time providing details around the vision to your team so they can catch your enthusiasm for where the organization is headed.

Problem #2: Lack of role clarity for inner circle followers.

Those in your inner circle must have clarity about what role they play in order to make the vision a reality. Your direct reports must be able to articulate and own the entire vision from the creation process to the communication and implementation. Accountability is vital within this inner circle. The leader should not bear sole responsibility for creation, ownership, and implementation. These elements must be an organizational process.

The Fix: Everyone in the inner circle must have specific accountability for their aspect of vision implementation.

Problem #3: Lack of personal belief in the vision.

Many of you do not have direct impact or influence on the vision for your organization, however, others in your organization need to know that you embrace the vision. You do not have to agree with every small detail around implementation, nonetheless, it is vital that you believe in the vision and overall direction of the organization. If not, you probably need to do some reflection on whether you are in the right place. If you do not like the vision, influence it. If you can not influence it and you don’t like it, then maybe your calling is elsewhere.

The Fix: Reflect on how you personally believe in the vision of your organization. Write out your thoughts. If you don’t believe in the vision, get out. You will only be a barrier to performance in the long run. If you need to leave the organization, this reflection will help you articulate your beliefs for the next group you associate with.

Problem #4: Abdication of the vision.

Here is one I heard recently: “This is Pastor Eric’s vision for our church!" May these words never be uttered in your organization where the masses have not bought in and owned the vision for themselves. If ownership of the vision does not get passed down, the likelihood of the vision becoming reality is slim.

The Fix: Everyone in the organization needs to be accountable for how they are implementing the vision in their department. As you interact with your team have conversations about what they are doing to own and make the vision a reality?

Problem #5: Devaluing encouragement.

People in the organization need to know that you believe they understand the vision. Far too many leaders cast a vision then move on to something else. The best way to build positive momentum around the vision is to articulate it and catch people carrying it out. When you look for those opportunities of catching the vision, celebrate and let everyone in the organization commend their achievement. Again, there is no better way to get the behavior you are looking for than to communicate success. Period.

The Fix: Catch people implementing the vision and celebrate it with the world!

Where do you see yourself in these 5 vision mistakes? Perhaps it would be helpful to write a 3 bullet point action plan for you to turn your mistake into learning, and eventually a success. If you try this, we would love to hear how it is working for you. Why not leave a comment below and share your thoughts?

What to do when your business vision is stuck

Years ago, I worked with a business leader who had an incredible vision for his organization. He was a passionate leader with excellent communication skills and energy for his mission. He was intellectually and morally solid and cared deeply for the people in his organization.

But he was stuck.

His organization just couldn’t grow the business past a certain industry-standard metric. However, the stagnation issue became evident as we looked over some feedback provided by his peers. One of the interview questions I ask the peers of my clients (as a routine part of my data gathering) was, "What is the vision this leader has for the organization?" After several interviews, the collective response was, “The vision is very clear, but we have no idea what steps we need to take to get started. It is like he has been dreaming of this his entire life and we are catching it for the first time."

As I presented this feedback to the leader and we processed the data together, his knee-jerk reaction was “We don’t have time to wait for them to process this. The time is now! They need to get on board or get out of the way. We are going to miss our opportunity. The timing is just right!"

So I asked,“Is it their lack of urgency, or could it be something else?”

After processing with him for a while, we discovered there was not a lack of urgency on the part of the organization. There was, however, a lack of emotional connection between the leader and his team. The urgency that the leader was feeling for vision implementation and change was being offset by his lack of emotional connection competency of patience. People in the organization need the time to absorb, process, and own the vision themselves.

Patience is devoting the appropriate time and attention to others in ways that enhance meaningful interaction.

Patience is suspending your personal need for satisfaction and action.

Patience seeks to slow down those fast-paced exchanges with others in order to facilitate better decision-making.

Patience is not racing ahead in thought process while missing information that others are endeavoring to share.

Patience is not wasting the opportunities to encourage, inspire, and motivate others.

In leader development, it is always important to keep perspective on a leader who is not connecting emotionally with his team. Without this emotional connection, it is virtually impossible to have the social intelligence needed to achieve organizational effectiveness.

There are a number of reasons a follower may choose to align with a leader. Fully committing to the vision of the leader is a quintessential desire that followers have. What they receive in return for committing to the vision of the leader is an emotional connection with that leader.

In our case study above, the leader has a choice. He can either move forward with his urgency and risk losing his entire vision. Or he can proactively slow down and take the time to encourage, inspire, and motivate his people. By embracing patience and connecting emotionally with his team, he can catapult the vision to the next level with everyone on board.

How are you connecting emotionally with your team? I’d love to hear your comments.