What do all great leaders have?

  • Empathy?
  • Courage?
  • Vision? 

There will be a lots to add to that list and different people may see it differently, the last one on this particular list of 3 is one I believe requires immediate focus, now more than ever due to the change in landscape, here’s why;

When I look back years ago when I was leading teams in various companies, I can see that sometimes I was pretty good at setting a direction and sometimes I was rubbish at it. I think I failed to grasp the value and importance of doing this and doing it well. When I think of those who were around me and the really senior leaders around those times they failed to do this also. So maybe its not a common thing. It’s no good if it’s just in your head and not successfully communicated either. That’s as good as not having one in some respects.

Learn #1 – having a vision is important, being able to then successfully communicate that is just as important  

Another thing that I’ve come to realise as time has gone on is that simply telling people that this is the direction is accepting a sub optimal effort towards any vision. Let me explain a bit more….

Whenever I used to do this kind of thing I would communicate MY own direction and look to convince everyone else in the team that they should follow me. Now this may sound like the perfect scenario for a great leader to emerge but what this approach failed to do was listen to what the team saw as the direction and give them the opportunity to be involved in shaping any vision. I can’t believe I never cottoned on to this earlier but then again I never saw any other leaders around me grasping this concept at the grass roots level either. If you consider it for a moment, how powerful is a direction set with everyone involved vs one set by one empowered individual?

Learn #2 – setting team level visions that allow for everyone to be involved works 100 times better than the alternative and drives higher levels of engagement (who would have thought it) 

The last learn I’m going to bring in here, in my opinion, is really cool.

Whenever, I communicated a direction to my teams I would grab a PowerPoint and hammer it until I had at least 10 slides to walk everyone through. Have a word with yourself Jason (I wish I could have said that to me then). This isn’t very effective. It’s not creative. It’s the same thing everyone is doing in every meeting. Literally, this is the staple way of capturing and communicating vision. Well, in the last few years I’ve had my eyes opened to a far better way. Get people to create imagery around the vision, identify themes and bring it all together into one picture. If you can, get an artist to pull it all together and watch how the team engage with their direction. A picture can create a thousand conversations.

Learn #3 – help people to get creative and turn the whole process into something that creates feeling. This ultimately creates attachment which is what great leaders are able to do as that inspires following  

Since starting Get Knowledge a couple of years ago this is one of the things I’ve been helping leaders with. These 3 learns are generally not implemented within business teams. Now more than ever its critical for people to understand direction. If you’re a leader reading this I would challenge you to think about these 3 learns. Are you missing an opportunity where vision is concerned?

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Here’s an example of a picture that drives our conversations at Get Knowledge

I’d love to chat more with some of you about this, get in touch at jason@getknowledge.co.uk