12 Rules for New Managers – #3: Write and Own a Vision

Last Monday I posted the 2nd rule I wish someone had given me when I first became a manager: Know Your People. The 1st one I needed was Keep Your Eye on the Ball.

Today I get to share with you the 3rd of 12 rules every new manager should know. I used to hate this one. I thought it was silly. Looking back, I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

If you know any managers who are either fresh in their field or could use some fresh perspective and inspiration, please share!

Rule #3: Write and Own a Vision

“The number one reason most people don’t get what they want,” says T. Harv Eker“is that they don’t know what they want.”

blog image 26Before you embark on a journey, you need to know your destination. Any preparation or action you take before you know exactly where you’re trying to go is silly.

You need a vision! A destination.

A vision is a clear concept of what you plan to make a reality.

If you want to be an effective leader, you need to determine exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and where you and your team are headed.

My experience confirms that until you have that clear vision, all your planning, all your analyzing, all your reviewing, all your assigning–all your work will be crippled by a lack of direction and purpose.

A vision needs to be 5 things:

1. Sincere

Your vision needs to be a sincere and honest expression of what you and your team truly want. You can have as cool sounding a mission as possible, but unless it’s something that fits you, you’ll never stick to it.

2. Inspiring

To be and do their best, people need to feel like they’re part of something important. Something that makes a difference. That’s why disconnected visions like “Follow all the rules and run smoothly” don’t work. You and your team need something exciting to reach for!

3. Clear

Your vision needs to be clear. It needs to be tangible and measurable. It needs to be specific and exact. As a leader, you lose all your leverage when the goal is something subjective, like “Be the best we can be.” You and your team need to know exactly what is the destination, so that there is no room for misunderstanding and half-hearted work.

4. Actionable

Your people cannot be waiting for the dream to become a reality. They need to be focused on making it a reality. Try using action words in your vision: Success won’t happen to you, you will make success! Tag numbers on it, put measurements in it. Your vision has to be one of action, so that when a player stops pulling his weight, the vision speaks directly to them.

5. A Commitment

Until you and your team can promise yourselves and each other that you will make your vision a reality, and hold each other to that commitment, the vision will be useless. There will be no passion, no inspiration, no power. Your vision has to be a commitment!

So how do you create and use your vision?

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion,” said Jack Welch, one of the greatest business leaders in history.

1. Write it!

Do not just talk about a vision. Do not have a vague idea that leaves everyone off the hook. Choose one and commit to it. Make it official. Put it in writing! You need to be able to return to it, consult it. Your team needs the same.

2. Collaborate.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I made as a manager. I tried to choose our vision without including my team. How seriously do you think they took that vision? How much do you think it resonated with them? How motivated do you think they were to pursue it?

3. Teach it.

Everyone on your team needs to know your vision. Inside and out. If you’re all trying to get to slightly different versions of a destination, you’ll never get there. So teach your vision in depth to each and every player on your team! Have people memorize it, or at least keep a copy! Talk about it lots. You and your team have to own it!

4. Tie everything into it.

Here’s where you’ll start seeing the real difference. When you have a “vision” in one corner, and what-you-do-daily in a different corner, you will see aimlessness and confusion. The real power is when you wrap everything you do back around into your vision. Show your people how each little part of their job is a part of the vision. Then, and only then, will you feel the momentum.

Takeaway: You and your team need a vision, and until you have one, there will be no direction or momentum. A vision is a clear concept of what you plan to make a reality. Your vision needs to be sincere, inspiring, clear, actionable, and a commitment. You need to write out your vision with the help of your team, everyone needs to learn it, and everything you do must tie into it. Then, and only then, will you feel the power of vision.

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln

What else should managers know about creating and living a vision?

Author: Peter Elbridge

I am a lifelong learner and avid reader, which translates into doing smart work for myself, my team, and my clients. I have a passion for effective leadership and an even bigger passion for helping others do and feel better. I have a lot of experience in communication, public speaking, and writing. Above all, I have a deep and genuine care for every life I touch. That's why I write. (My opinions and endorsements are my own and do not represent my employer.)

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