Whether we know it to be true or false, we are bombarded daily with news stories that cause a reverberating wince across all realms of leadership. We hear words from world leaders, reporters, news anchors, executives, clergy and scholars that inspire, defeat, rally, confuse, anger, and at times connect us. In this age of complexity and chaos, leaders need to ensure they are speaking up and out on issues that impact their followers.
It does not matter the organization’s industry, size, or location. Followers need to hear the words of those they have chosen to follow. A leader’s ability to declare a sense of optimism, enthusiasm and passion for their purpose and vision is critical. In fact, Purpose & Vision, along with Building Teams are two competencies most highly correlated to leadership effectiveness. This is based on the research recently published in the book, Mastering Leadership (Anderson & Adams, 2016).
However, one cannot communicate something that does not exist. As leaders, there needs to be time spent cultivating vision and purpose. Over the years, I have worked with many leaders who struggle to name their values, mission, purpose, and vision. They wrestle with the distinctions between the words and often fall back into an assumed knowledge of the obvious in hopes their followers will just know or figure it out. This never works. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Determine your top five values. Need help? Google search values exercises and use one like this to get started. https://www.cmu.edu/career/documents/my-career-path-activities/values-exercise.pdf
2. Understand the difference between Mission and Vision.
Do not stop with a written exercise. Once you have a sense of what your purpose and vision is – practice talking about it. Say it out loud for others to hear and give feedback. You want to get comfortable with the language before you take it to your followers.
Do not wait for another controversial news story or world tragedy before you start to speak up on what is most important to you. In times of silence, people fill in the gaps and rarely is it is with positive intent. They may assume your silence suggests a lack of care, agreement/disagreement, lack of intelligence, lack of emotional awareness, etc. None of these assumptions inspire followers for long.
Ultimately, leadership is never a call for comfort – it is a call for courage. It starts with clear communication and passion about what you believe and where you are willing to take a stand.
When was the last time you spoke up and out with your compelling purpose and vision?
Anderson, R. J., & Adams, W. A. (2016). Mastering leadership: An integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker | Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation | Program Director for Evidence-Based Coaching at Fielding Graduate University