Smashing Through Goals – 4 Tips to Achieve Yours
As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and our team. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals – 4 Tips to Achieve Yours

As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and for our team. This can be a bit of a learning experience. Once we start setting the goals, we don’t have anyone checking up on us to follow through. After several years in the Air Force, I gained more responsibility and had more people working for me. I was the one setting the goals but no one was really chasing me to achieve them. When I was starting my own business, I had a goal to write a business plan. No one else was looking for it, was just something I thought was a good idea. I had to figure out a way to get that business plan done without anyone else following up with me. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #1 – Well Written Goals

This is a bit of a review, but you need well-written goals. When I talk with people about setting their goals, I make sure they are clear, measurable and achievable. I won’t go into all the details of what that means. I’ve got another post on setting goals where you can more information on what clear, measurable and achievable are all about. There are other methods for writing goals like SMART, but I like the idea of clear, measurable and achievable. It’s simple and easy to remember. With this method, you’ll quickly build tools and systems to track your goals which are critical to achieving them.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #2 – Build Tools & Systems

Tools and systems are key to sticking to the actions you need to take to achieve your goal. When I was writing my business plan, it never would have gotten done without a system.  I made a contract with myself that each night after dinner I would work for an hour on it. Using that system, I actually knocked it out in just a couple of weeks just working an hour a night. There were a lot of nights that I would say “I’m really onto something here. I’m going to work for a little longer.” That was a system that worked great for me. You need to figure out what works for you. If you’ve tried a system for a couple of weeks and it’s not working, don’t be afraid to reevaluate. Maybe throw that system out and try something new to help you get to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #3 – Track Your Progress

Everyone talks about this, everyone hears about it, we all know we need to do it. It’s one of the things that often doesn’t get done. Tracking your goals doesn’t need to be elaborate. It just needs to be appropriate for what you’re trying to do. In the video, I show you how I’m tracking my social media audience goals this year. You want to make tracking easy. If you can find there’s a data out there already, like social media platform analytics, use it. I’m just bringing that data together to create a snapshot to see how I’m doing. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel if someone’s already collecting the data. When using other people’s data, it probably will not answer your questions directly. You may have to pull in different sources of data and make some assumptions to apply it to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #4 – Assess and Adjust

Tracking your progress is useless unless you use the data and conclusions to assess your progress and adjust. Each month I assess if I achieved my social media goals. If I didn’t, I’ll decide what changes to make to meet those goals next month. When it comes to adjusting, you may decide you need to adjust your goal because it was too lofty. That’s a reasonable approach, but consider adjusting your actions in the future to reach that goal. That can be a little bit of an iterative process. As you continue to assess, take some different actions or increase the intensity on your actions.

So there are your four tips for smashing through goals. Remember it’s important to make sure that your goals are well written, that clear, measurable and achievable. Build tools and systems that help you follow through on those goals. Track your progress to see if the tools and systems you’ve built are working. Look for trends the data, assess and adjust. Instead of changing or throwing out your goal, adjust where you’re putting your effort instead of making radical changes to your goals or your life plan.

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers, but business opportunities aren’t usually just handed to us.

Business Opportunities – 4 Tips to Make Them Happen for You

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers. If we can just get one shot, we’ll be able to achieve our goals. That’s not how opportunities really work though. Business opportunities or opportunities in other aspects of our lives aren’t usually just handed to us. We often have to recognize opportunities in their infancy and grow them before we can take advantage of them. Taking small steps to pursue an opportunity gives far better results than waiting for something to fall into our lap.

Business Opportunities Tip #1 – Keep Your Eyes Open

Maybe the biggest challenge with taking advantage of opportunities is recognizing that they’re out there. Opportunities are happening every day but they might be passing right by us because we’re not looking. Most really great opportunities start out as a tiny observation of something that could be done a little better. They start to grow inside us until we recognize that there’s something great there. One of the big challenges with opportunities is that they don’t always look like a benefit at first. That new job in a new city or 6-month overseas trip can be a little intimidating. That nervousness is a good sign that seizing the day can bring fulfillment and satisfaction.

Business Opportunities Tip #2 – Do the Homework

Before jumping in, do some research. Find out about the fundamentals of the industry if you don’t already know them. Identify who this opportunity benefits and who you might be in competition with. Who are the decision makers and influencers? Who might be willing to help you because they think you have a great idea, but they just don’t have the time to do it themselves? If you’re going to a new place, research the layout, history, and culture. If you’re taking a job in a new field, brush up on the basics that go along with it.

Business Opportunities Tip #3 – Follow Through

This is probably where most of us will miss out on an opportunity. We don’t always follow through on the actions we need to take. We might not call that person or submit the application for the program that would improve our skills. There have been times where I didn’t do the follow through and missed an opportunity. Most of the time, this is because we are afraid. The future that may come from the new opportunity might be scary. It might force us to step outside of our comfort zone. While these are very real feelings, we need to recognize that fear is what keeps us in the status quo. If we give into this fear, we can miss out on those opportunities that we worked so hard to create. Taking small steps to follow through is critical once we see a new opportunity.

Business Opportunities Tip #4 – Enjoy the Ride

By now we all know that nothing ever goes exactly how we plan. It’s frustrating, but it also lets the world surprise us in ways we never thought possible. Opportunities morph and change and almost never turn out to be what we thought they would be in the beginning. Trying to control an opportunity and force it into what we think it should be leads to limited results. We get better results by flowing with the opportunity and appreciating the new ideas and skills we are learning. Appreciating the journey that comes from a new opportunity will be far more satisfying and fulfilling than the outcome itself.

If you’re waiting for that great opportunity to come your way, try these four tips to see if you can make your own. Keep your eyes open for those tiny little chances to solve a problem or take on a new role. Once you see that tiny spark, fan it into a flame by doing some research and following up. Most importantly, enjoy the experience as you try something new. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you hoped, chances are this one opportunity will open several other doors for you to take a chance on too!

We all made it through another year! The upcoming holidays are a great time for looking back at our successes and the lessons we learned in 2016. It’s also a great time to think about the new adventures we want to embark on in 2017. In this month’s challenge we’ll get you looking back at the past in a positive way. We'll also get you looking to the future in a way that will help you take action.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

We all made it through another year! The upcoming holidays are a great time for looking back at our successes and the lessons we learned in 2016. It’s also a great time to think about the new adventures we want to embark on in 2017. In this month’s challenge we’ll get you looking back at the past in a positive way. We’ll also get you looking to the future in a way that will help you take action.

Looking Back – December Challenge Part 1

Are you ready for this month’s challenge? Of course you are! Part 1 is about looking back over the course of the past year. Our goal with this part is to look back in a reflective way, but not get trapped in the past. We don’t want to dwell on the negative things that happened. Rather we want to focus on what we achieved and what we learned in 2016.

First, we’re going to make a list of the things we achieved this year. They don’t have to be big things, just things that you’re proud of yourself for accomplishing. I’m proud of finishing a good part of my MBA program and of strategic partnerships that I’ve made. I’m also really proud of the workshops I’ve done and the people we’ve helped all year-long. Big or small, it’s important to acknowledge ourselves for the progress we’ve made over the course of the year.

Next, let’s make a list of the things we’ve learned this year. These can be lessons about business, other people in our lives or even about ourselves. I learned how some of the things I do affect my relationships. I also learned that I can’t be afraid to ask for things, whether that is help for a project or bringing in a new client. Again, these don’t need to be life-altering revelations. We just want a list of what we’ve learned and how those lessons can serve us in the future.

Looking Forward – December Challenge Part 2

Now, let’s look at what you’d like to take a shot at in 2017! Part 2 of our challenge is to make a list of the things we’d like to achieve in 2017. They don’t need to be grand ideas or anything that’s going to change the world in a major way. We’re want to get excited about what we’d like to achieve next year. One of my goals is to get more involved in the community here in Las Vegas and meet more entrepreneurs.

Now that you’ve got your list of things to do in 2017, there is one more extra credit challenge for you. A lot of people make New Year’s Resolutions this time of year, but they can be hard to stick to. Challenge yourself to start on one item your list. Come up with at least three action steps you can take starting today to get you closer to that goal. If you start right away, you’ll be that much closer to achieving it when 2017 gets here.

It’s been a great year so far! We should all look forward to spending some downtime with friends and family for the upcoming holidays. This is a great time for looking back at the positive things that happened in 2016 and looking forward to the ways we want to challenge ourselves in 2017. Starting on those challenges today will bring the benefits to us even sooner!

No matter how skilled or talented we are, there's just no way we can accomplish the big goals we want to meet all on our own. Every great leader has worked with others to bring about the amazing things that they have achieved. Trying to do everything on our own can be frustrating, leads to slower progress and limited results and is honestly, a little bit lonely. One of the ways we bring others in to help us meet our objectives is through building partnerships and strategic relationships. There are lots of people out there in the world whose professional goals are either similar or complimentary to our own. Finding these people and working together in a mutually beneficial relationship is one of the best ways to achieve what we are setting out to do. One of the most difficult things to do when we're looking to build strategic relationships is to figure out who we should approach to be in this partnership with us. Fortunately, there are a few key questions that we can ask ourselves in order to make this easier.

Strategic Relationships – Video Guide

No matter how skilled or talented we are, there’s just no way we can accomplish the big goals we want to meet all on our own. Every great leader has worked with others to bring about the amazing things that they have achieved. Trying to do everything on our own can be frustrating, leads to slower progress and limited results and is honestly, a little bit lonely. One of the ways we bring others in to help us meet our objectives is through building partnerships and strategic relationships. There are lots of people out there in the world whose professional goals are either similar or complimentary to our own. Finding these people and working together in a mutually beneficial relationship is one of the best ways to achieve what we are setting out to do. One of the most difficult things to do when we’re looking to build strategic relationships is to figure out who we should approach to be in this partnership with us. Fortunately, there are a few key questions that we can ask ourselves in order to make this easier.

Questions to Ask When Building Strategic Relationships:

  • Who shares my goals and ambitions?
  • Who has a similar outlook on business and life?
  • Who has similar goals, but a different perspective than my own?
  • Who has experience or expertise needed to meet my goals, but that I don’t have?

Once we’ve identified who to start building a partnership or strategic relationship with, we need to keep in mind that the relationship can’t be all about us and our own goals. Partnerships need to be two-way street where we give at least as much as we get to the relationship so that all parties can achieve their goals. Only when both partners give what they have to offer to make the partnership work do we really maximize our results.

Photo Credit: By Vicki Nunn (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We took a little break from posting content over the holidays, but we're back now and our first video of 2016 is all about the importance of investing in ourselves. As we all start to set our improvement goals for the upcoming year it's important to assess if we are investing our energy and resources effectively to achieve them. Worthwhile goals don't just happen overnight or come about on their own. In order to really see the gains that we desire in our personal and professional lives, we need to apply our energy and resources in the right areas with sufficient intensity.

Investing in Ourselves

We took a little break from posting content over the holidays, but we’re back now and our first video of 2016 is all about the importance of investing in ourselves. As we all start to set our improvement goals for the upcoming year it’s important to assess if we are investing our energy and resources effectively to achieve them. Worthwhile goals don’t just happen overnight or come about on their own. In order to really see the gains that we desire in our personal and professional lives, we need to apply our energy and resources in the right areas with sufficient intensity.

4 Areas for Investing in Ourselves

  1. Time – The most important resource we have is our time and where we choose to spend our time says a lot about our priorities. Planning ahead to determine how much time we need to dedicate to achieving a goal can help us invest our time wisely and keep us from getting frustrated if our progress is slow. Investing in ourselves by prioritizing and budgeting our time to spend on the areas we most want to improve will provide us the greatest gains.
  2. Money – There are many free resources, both online and offline, that we can use to begin our quest to improve in a certain area, but at some point in order to achieve true mastery, we often need to spend some money. Asking ourselves if we can spend some of our hard-earned money in a smart way can help accelerate our development to get to the next level.
  3. Relationships – Developing a solid support structure made up of people who support us and provide honest and candid feedback is key for personal and professional development. Investing in ourselves by building strong relationships with people who believe in us and support our goals is essential to achieving those goals.
  4. Tools and Systems – Creating processes and procedures that help us follow through on our goals can help us make regular and continuous progress and keep us from having to rely on willpower to keep us moving forward.

Try taking a look at these 4 areas as you start turning your goals for 2016 into actionable steps and see if you’re investing appropriately in all 4 areas. If progress is slower than you’d like see if you can up your investment in one or more areas to accelerate your gains!

While the idea of work-life balance is often debated, it is possible to achieve fulfillment in our work and personal lives at the same time by setting clear priorities and following through on them.

Work-Life Balance Through Setting Priorities

 

Holiday season is when most of us start thinking about spending more time with our families and friends and emphasizing our personal lives. Many leaders have a hard time balancing goals in our personal and professional lives and achieving a work-life balance that meets all of our needs. While the idea of work-life balance is often debated, it is possible to achieve fulfillment in our work and personal lives at the same time by setting clear priorities and following through on them.

Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Many of us have a hard time following through on our priorities because we don’t take time to clearly define them. Taking a few minutes to sit down and think through what is really important to us and what we want out of life can bring clarity to help us make decisions and take actions that are aligned with our priorities. Being open about those priorities with the important people in our professional and personal lives can help us all understand each other better and have healthy responses when we need to make choices among priorities.

Once our priorities are set, it’s important to apply tools and systems to help us follow through on them. Thinking through how the actions we plan to take each day will advance each of our priorities can give us a solid game plan for meeting our goals and achieving that balance. Tools like reminders lists and calendars can be customized with tags or color codes to help us get a snapshot of how today’s activities are moving the ball forward on our most important priorities in life.

 

There are many keys to guiding a team to a successful outcome, but communicating expectations for them is one of the first and most important. Clearly outlining expectations isn’t a guarantee of a success, but NOT communicating expectations is almost guaranteed to PREVENT success. Once you’ve made the commitment to communicate your expectations, clarity and specificity are the goals that you’re going to want to shoot for. One good way to accomplish this is by applying the 5 W’s when you’re communicating expectations to your team. If you’re unfamiliar with the 5 W’s, you may have heard them described as Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Communicating Expectations – Applying the 5 W’s

If you’ve found your way to this post, it’s safe to say that you’re the kind of leader who wants your team to be successful. There are many keys to guiding a team to a successful outcome, but communicating expectations for them is one of the first and most important. Clearly outlining expectations isn’t a guarantee of a success, but NOT communicating expectations is almost guaranteed to PREVENT success. Once you’ve made the commitment to communicate your expectations, clarity and specificity are the goals that you’re going to want to shoot for. One good way to accomplish this is by applying the 5 W’s when you’re communicating expectations to your team. If you’re unfamiliar with the 5 W’s, you may have heard them described as Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Who – The First Step in Communicating Expectations

First get yourself in a frame of mind where you’re thinking about all of the people involved. Who are you setting expectation for? Is it a single team member or a group? Are the expectations all exactly the same for each team member or are they slightly different based on roles and responsibilities? Who else that is not a member of your team might need to be involved? Who does a successful outcome impact? Who does an unsuccessful outcome impact?

What

What is it exactly that you want your team to accomplish? What is the need that must be filled or the problem that must be solved? What does that end state look like to you? Can you picture what the successful outcome looks like for you, your team and other stakeholders?

When

When do you want the end state to be completed by? Are there intermediate milestones where you want your team to show their progress? Are there outside factors or agencies who are counting on your piece to be completed on a certain timeline? Are there impacts for not being done on time? What other processes or outcomes will this affect if it is not done on time?

Where

Where does the work need to be done? Where does the finished product need to show up? Does it need to be delivered to someone? Is it possible that the outcome or process is not location dependent and that the work can be done from anywhere?

Why

Why is this important to the organization? Why is the outcome important to other stakeholders? Why is it important to your company’s customers? Why is it important to society in general and why will it make the world a better place? Why is your team critical to getting it done? Do you have specific expertise to bring to the table? Why is it important that a particular team member be the one to accomplish a certain task?

You may remember from school that there was an H that went along with the 5 W’s and that H stood for how. I’ve left the “how” out of the discussion here with the assumption that you’ll want to allow your team members to figure out the “how” themselves without being told by you.

Asking these questions will help with communicating expectations to your team before getting started on your next endeavor. Coming up with really specific and detailed answers will help provide that clarity that your team needs to go off on their own and successfully achieve that outcome you’re asking them to get to!

What other questions do you ask yourself to help communicate clearly and specifically?

 

Photo Credit: By Tom Beazley, published by aussiejeff [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

As leaders, we have a lot of hopes and dreams for making our lives better and building a better world. It’s difficult to fit everything in that we want to achieve and sometimes it’s overwhelming to figure out what it is specifically that we want. Creating a development plan can help you think through what goals are really important to you and to articulate them clearly. It will also give you a framework to put together a plan of action and highlight the people you’ll need to help you implement your plan for achieving goals.

Achieving Goals Using a Development Plan

As leaders, we have a lot of hopes and dreams for making our lives better and building a better world. It’s difficult to fit everything in that we want to achieve and sometimes it’s overwhelming to figure out what it is specifically that we want. Creating a development plan can help you think through what goals are really important to you and to articulate them clearly. It will also give you a framework to put together a plan of action and highlight the people you’ll need to help you implement your plan. A development plan isn’t absolutely necessary to achieve your goals, but it does provide you with a great foundation to start getting organized.

Section 1 – Setting Your Goals

When writing your development plan it’s important to put your goals into the context of the timeframe in which you want to achieve them. Start listing all of the goals you have into three categories: near, mid and far term. Near-term goals should be ones that you want to accomplish in the next 1-2 years, mid-term goals are on a timeframe of about 2-5 years and long-term goals are the ones you want to achieve in the 5-10 year timeframe or even further out. Long-term goals might be getting a certain job at a certain point in your career or starting a family. Mid-term goals might be completing a degree program or internal training program at your company. Short-term goals might be taking a class, acquiring a certain skill or getting selected to be part of a certain project team at work.

As you come up with your goals, remember that effective goals are clear, measurable and achievable. Try to be as specific and descriptive as you can when write them down. Also, it’s just as important to include the goals that you have for your personal life as it is to articulate the goals for your professional life.

Section 2 – Action Plan for Achieving Goals

After you’ve got your goals written clearly and specifically and arranged into near, mid and long-term, the next step is to see if completing any of your goals are helpful towards meeting other goals. If meeting some of your near or mid-term goals will help meet a longer term goal, use this as the beginning of your action plan. Show clearly how the interim goals will help meet the longer term ones. Then start filling in the other actions you think you need to complete to meet each goal. Look for common actions or themes between them and use these to refine your plan to make it more efficient. Don’t forget to include any skills, education or training you might need to acquire in order to fully achieve your goals.

Section 3 – Using your Network to Achieve Goals

Just as critical as the steps you will take in your action plan is thinking about who the people are that can help you with your goals. You might find that these people associate directly with some of the tasks in your action plan, but you may also find that this is a good place to list the leaders and mentors who will help you on a long-term basis with general support. If you’re having a hard time figuring out who would be great assets to help you achieve your goals, pull out your network map and start aligning the people on it with your goals and action steps. If you find that you have an action step where you need help but don’t have anyone in your network to help you, figure out what kind of person you’ll need to help you and who currently in your network map can help you find those people.

One of most critical aspects of using a development plan is to revisit it periodically to check your progress on your goals and recognize yourself for how much you have already accomplished. I recommend reviewing your plan every 6 months, but at the very least you should review it again at the end of your short-term timeframe (1-2 years from writing the plan). Every time you review your plan you should clear out any goals that you have already achieved and re-evaluate your mid and long-term goals. During this review you should evaluate your progress on your mid and long-term goals and determine if you need to write new short-term goals to meet them. Also, as you move through the years, you’ll want to add new long-term goals as your previous long-term goals get closer. Don’t forget to update your action plan and people sections to make plans to achieve new goals or update your current plans and recognize that you have probably added people to your network who might be able to help you.

 

What long-term goals are you setting out to achieve? Tell us in the comments!

 

Photo Credit: By Allen Institute for Brain Science (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jason LeDuc from Evil Genius Leadership Consultants discusses how leaders must be clear about their vision that drives the mission forward. Items to consider and practical tips on how to craft a powerful vision statement.

Vision Goes Hand-in-Hand with Mission

All truly great leaders all have a mission that they put their heart and soul into and are able to articulate that mission in enrolling and inspiring ways.

Your own mission statement describes not just what your mission is, but why it is important in a larger sense for you and your team to achieve it. Writing your mission statement is just the beginning, as a leader you must be clear about the vision that drives the mission.

Vision: What is it?

Your vision is how the completed mission looks and feels. Vision is what connects you personally to the mission and shows how you believe the world looks like a better place in the future. If your mission is a task that has been handed down to you from one of your leaders, this is a great opportunity for to personalize the mission. Here is your chance to tell the world not just what you think the basic physical substance of the result is but the aesthetic of it as well. This is where you really get to connect with your team on a human level and motivate them by harnessing the power of their imaginations about the mission.

Things to consider as you contemplate your vision:

  • What does a successful outcome look and feel like?
  • Who benefits from that success and how their lives are better for it?
  • Is it consistent with the initial problem you set out to solve?
  • Does it accomplish every part of the mission you have taken on?
  • Are there some gaps in the vision you need to fill in?

Vision is not org charts, schedules, lists and financial spreadsheets. It may be tempting to start breaking down tasks and assigning them before your vision is firmly fixed in your mind because you know they will need to be done, but it’s important to establish the vision first to frame the desired outcome for your team before they get started. Organization and tools are important and will all come later.

Creating your Vision

Putting together a vision is a little more advanced than capturing your mission statement, but definitely worth the effort. Some tips to help you put together your vision:

  • Be very clear on what the mission statement is, what you are trying to achieve and why it is important.
  • Consider carefully who benefits from completing your mission. Not just your team or your company, but what is the good that comes about in the world by successfully achieving what you set out to do.
  • Project your thoughts into the future to a time when your mission has been achieved. Engage all of your senses and see, hear, touch, smell and taste what that success looks like. If it is a product, how does the finished product look? What does it sound like? What is the texture of it? Are there smells, tastes, sounds associated with the way you view the finished product? What are the emotions the finished product is intended to evoke? If the mission isn’t going to result in a physical product, such as an event or milestone, apply the same questions to the environment and people involved instead of a physical object.
  • Translate these thoughts and feelings into words to share with your team. Be as vivid as possible in describing the various physical and emotional aspects of what the completed mission will bring forth into the world. Try to get them to picture it in their minds as completely as you were able to picture it in yours.
  • Be prepared to answer questions from your team and clarify your meaning. Even your most experienced team members might have a hard time visualizing your vision. Attempt to make it as crystal clear in their minds as it is in yours.

Your vision may be something you want to unveil to your team when you first share the mission statement with them or, if more appropriate to your situation, you may want to give them the mission first and allow them to share in creating the vision. Including ideas from your team members can result in a deeper, more thoughtful vision that will achieve the most possible good in the world as you accomplish your mission.

Share your mission and vision statements with us in the comments. If you are struggling with putting those together, please contact us and we’ll give you a hand.

Photo Credit: By Alan Light [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Key Leadership Traits: Vision

I’m often asked, what are the key traits that make a great leader? That question always brings up a lot of discussion, but I believe one of the qualities that makes a truly great leader stand out is the ability to create a vision of the future they want to achieve as well as being able to communicate that vision to their team. Leaders who can visualize and communicate a clear, specific end state can then entrust their team members to perform in their specific roles with that end state in mind. This gives the team members opportunities to take initiative without needing to ask permission on every little detail from the team leader. The alternative is that you will be spending a lot of time checking in on them about small tasks and not staying focused on how the individual pieces come together to form the whole.

Having a vision should not be confused with the mission or goals you are trying to accomplish. Your mission may not actually be an outcome you have chosen; it may be an initiative that your boss has assigned you or a project that has been requested by a customer. Whether the task is one that you have chosen or not, you’ll want to formulate a vision of what the end state looks like in your own mind before you attempt to take any action. The vision doesn’t need to be grandiose, but it should be based upon completing all of the mission requirements as well as reflecting the intangible qualities such as the work preferences or style of the users.

So you don’t feel like you’re a visionary? Fear not, vision, like many leadership qualities, can be developed and not something that lucky individuals are born with. Chances are you have developed a vision in the past and executed on it, you just didn’t think about it in those terms. Here are some questions to ask yourself next time you take on a project to help develop your vision:

  • What are the mission requirements? Is the mission a problem that needs to be solved? An improvement on something that is already pretty good but you’d like to improve it? What are the actual, factual, non-emotional requirements to meet the need?
  • Who is the mission being completed for? Is it your boss? A customer? An end user who is not your boss or customer, but is represented by them on this issue?
  • How should the end product look physically? What appealing traits would you like the end product to have? Are there feeling or emotions that you want the end product to evoke in the customer/user? If not a physical end product, what do you believe would be most satisfying to the customer or end user when the mission is completed?
  • What is the quality of work that you expect from your team on this project? Are they already capable of performing at this level? Will they need additional skills or improvement in the skills they already have? How much initiative and creativity would you like them to apply? Are they used to the degree of freedom you envision?
  • What are the time and resource constraints? Are there elements that you would really like to include in your vision, but may need to sacrifice due to these constraints?
  • How will you communicate the answers to all of these questions to your team?

Remember that vision is a very personal thing. Everyone will see the outcome a little differently in their head if given room to interpret their own vision using the same facts and parameters. Also, while your vision of a successful outcome is personal, it is important that you re able to communicate your vision to your team so that they can execute it. Great leaders are the ones who can see their own vision and get them to buy into it!

 

Discussion Question: What other key traits do you believe great leaders possess?

 

Photo Credit: “Dios”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dios.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Dios.jpg

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