Leadership Tip: Teamwork and Vision Go Hand in Hand

September 12, 2017

Have you ever been a part of a team that doesn’t seem to get anything accomplished? Where the team may work and work, but nothing actually gets done? If so, you’ve probably been on a team that lacked vision.

Vision works like a rudder on a ship. Without it, the ship may travel a distance, but not necessarily in the right direction. With it, the ship reaches the destination by the shortest route possible. Vision determines the direction of the team. Champion basketball coach Pat Riley once said, “Teamwork requires that everyone’s efforts flow in a single direction. Feelings of significance happen when a team’s energy takes on a life of its own.” With vision, a team has energy, and team members feel like they’re doing something of value.

So if you’re the leader of a team, how do you impart vision to your people? You transfer the vision both emotionally and logically. What is needed to emotionally transfer a vision?

Credibility. People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. Your people need to know that you can be trusted.

Passion. Team members will not be excited about a vision that the leader doesn’t care about. They need to see and feel your passion before they embrace it.

Relationship. How well do your teammates know you? How well do you know them? People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Timing. For a vision to connect, its timing needs to be right. The right decision at the wrong time is still the wrong decision.

What is needed to logically transfer a vision?

A realistic understanding of the situation today. A firm grasp on reality gives your vision a starting point, and makes team members more willing to partner in achieving it.

An experienced team. How familiar are team members with the specific problem? The more they’ve dealt with similar situations, the more confident they’ll be in their ability to tackle this challenge. Make it your goal to show them how their previous experience has prepared them.

A sound strategy. Do you have a game plan that you can articulate clearly and succinctly? Team members need to know where they’re going before they can fully accept the responsibility for getting there.

Acceptance of responsibility by the leader(s). Do you embrace your role in achieving the vision? Are you willing to be held accountable? People need to know that you’ll do your part.

Celebration of each victory. A big vision is filled with many small goals. Celebrating victories in those areas helps team members track their progress and find the motivation to continue on the journey.

Evaluation of each defeat. When the team misses a goal, it’s important to acknowledge that and communicate how the team can do better moving forward.

Great vision precedes great achievement. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, a leader of troops during World War II, wrote that “every single soldier must know, before he goes into battle, how the little battle he is to fight fits into the larger picture, and how the success of his fighting will influence the battle as a whole.” People on your team need to know why they’re fighting. This helps them buy in emotionally and logically, so that they can work together with you to achieve victory.