This post is the first in a series about how to show up as your best self in a strategic leadership role, whether you are running an organization or in charge of a team within a larger organization. How do we marshal the tools of strategic planning--vision, mission, values, theory of change, theory of action etc.--in the most compelling possible way?
We'll begin by looking at the question of how to craft a compelling shared vision.
As change agents, our vision for a better world is necessarily larger than ourselves--and this means we need a vision that doesn't just come from our own head and our own heart. We need to figure out how to engage others to co-create that vision. As a leader you do need to have a point of view, but a compelling shared vision must also incorporate the aspirations and dreams of others.
“Leaders never make extraordinary things happen all by themselves. Leaders mobilize others to want to struggle for shared aspirations, and this means that, fundamentally, leadership is a relationship.”
--Kouzes and Posner
Even if you've spent a lot of time with strategic planning processes it can still be helpful to review the distinctions between some of the key terms that get thrown around. Harvard Business Review's Leader's Handbook has a very useful chart laying out these distinctions.
Drawing on these distinctions between mission, values and vision, we can link these three building blocks of strategic leadership together in the following definition of strategy.
There are at least three different methods for engaging key stakeholders to further develop and refine vision together:
--Develop a first draft yourself then do deep listening with stakeholders and adapt and evolve accordingly. Cameron Herold's Vivid Vision method can be a helpful starting point for this approach.
--Develop some key principles and give these to a team to develop a first draft
--Develop some key questions to ask in focus groups and interviews and synthesize a first draft based on responses
All these approaches require you as a leader to show up with humility and a willingness to listen deeply and iterate in response to feedback.
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