The 5 key points Harold makes are:
1. Dreaming is important
2. Link into the company's vision
3. Write the future headlines
4. Synthesize the headlines
5. Press the spacebar
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Ask Harold Episode 17 Transcript:
Today I’ll answer a question from a viewer who wants to create a future vision and a stronger sense of direction for her team. She’s looking for some advice on the best approach to take. So let’s get into it.
Hi everybody, Harold Hillman here. And thank you for joining me on episode 17 of Ask Harold. Today’s question is from Tamara who’s leading a team for the first time and wants to know how to set a vision to help give her team a sense of direction. This is one of those leadership challenges that everybody faces, and it never goes away, and definitely requires some skill, which is why we chose Tamara’s question for today’s episode.
Here’s what she writes:
I’m a new team leader which happened much later in my career than I anticipated. The one benefit of being older is that I have accumulated some wisdom along the way about how teams work. I know from personal experience why a team vision is important; it makes a difference.
I would like to build a vision with my team. How do I go about this so that they have a better sense of direction for where we are headed?
Is there something practical that I can do to help them get more focused on the future?
Your thoughts on this are much appreciated.
Thanks for that question, Tamara. Like I said, this is one of those perennial challenges: it never goes away and there is a reason for that. Just like with human beings, teams should have aspiration where they push through to a higher level of performance. And, just like people, teams work better when they are inspired – which is why having a strong vision should never be optional for a team or a company.
So here are 5 things to keep in mind if your goal is to build and sustain a strong vision for your team:
1. The first thing is: dreaming is important. It’s how we are hard-wired as people. Your brain stimulates itself hundreds of times a day through random day dreams to counter boredom and complacency. Even when we sleep, our brains recharge by inducing dreams in that critical REM stage of sleep. Without dreams, day or night, we can’t survive. So extrapolate that to a team of people.
A team of people is a living organism – it needs to dream as well. That’s called aspiration – where you dream about a better future. It’s how we grow as people and it’s how we grow as teams. You can never stop dreaming so factor this into your leadership.
2. The second thing is: link into the company’s vision. Now it helps tremendously if the company HAS one, but you don’t have to wait if that isn’t the case. For sure: every business wants to grow. So your team has to build a vision, a dream, that supports what the company does as well as how the company does it. A team’s vision is often more about the “how” than the “what”; the premise being that there is something about how we work as a team that will give us better results. That’s why the team’s dream needs to be aligned with what the company believes is important, as well as its values.
3. Thirdly: write the future headlines. This is a powerful exercise that I use with teams, where I ask each person to pretend they are the business editor of a respected newspaper who’s writing a feature article about your company’s success. The editor wants to drill down specifically around your team’s work in contribution to the company’s success.
I ask each person to write a one-page article describing in vivid detail what the team has done and how it has done it, to get strong results 5 years into the future. Make sure that everyone understands that this is a creative exercise so they get more points for vivid descriptions and characters and colorful ways to help us see, with clear examples, the future that they’ve written about in their article.
4. The fourth thing is: synthesize the headlines. This is the harder part, but a very energizing exercise where the team gets aligned around one single headline rather than a bunch of different ones. They dig into the picture that each has created in their individual story, and then build on common themes across the stories: debating and deciding on what the ramifications are on how the team will be working and what it will be working on 5 years into the future.
This exercise usually takes about 4 hours, but is well worth the time invested. When everybody believes that they’ve helped to shape the team’s vision, they are far more likely to own that aspiration together rather than having it imposed from the top.
5. And then finally: press the spacebar. Think of your laptop screen when it goes dim: you press the spacebar and it brightens up again. That’s what you have to do with you team’s vision. Because of natural complacency, you have to press the team’s spacebar every now and then to refresh the dream, to brighten it up a bit, and to stretch it. That’s the wonderful thing about dreams: the more we grow, the bigger they get.
Thanks again for that question, Tamara, and thank you all for watching Ask Harold. On the next episode I’ll answer a question from a viewer who puts more pressure on herself than she should to be the perfect manager at work. She’s beginning to see the downside of having to know and be across everything. Be sure to tune in for that one.
And remember: if you liked this video, tell others about it and subscribe to Sigmoid’s YouTube channel. And if you have a question of your own, or want to see my other videos and articles, go to my blog at www.drharoldhillman.com
Take good care and see you all soon.