When we think of someone leading with a persuasive vision we usually think they are brilliant in their actions and communications because they achieved something extraordinary. Having a persuasive vision is a powerful tool for self-successes and organizational successes.
Leading with a persuasive vision is more than setting goals for the year, although that is a part. A persuasive vision guides our direction and influences others to follow and support.
Having a persuasive vision for oneself is perhaps one of the biggest contributors to personal success we have witnessed; for instance, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey. Interestingly, both of their personal visions were shaped in their early years and continued to expand over time.
Leaders are responsible for creating a persuasive vision for their team or organization. Without a compelling vision, planning will be flawed and success a crapshoot. Without a vision, it is difficult to inspire a team, and the team will have no clear direction. Having a persuasive vision helps us to overcome obstacles to achieving our vision.
But, having a vision is not enough. The vision must be creative, relevant, and serve to motivate and inspire others. It must be the result of strategic thinking and collaboration with others on the team or in the organization. It must also be persuasive and influence others to follow.
Leaders strong in persuasive vision include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (“I have a dream.”), Ronald Reagan (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”), and Winston Churchill during World War II.
In our research to complete The Leadership Compass: Mapping Your Leadership Direction, we identified 6 competencies that contribute to a persuasive vision.
Creativity. People want to follow a vision that is unique and expresses a future beyond the normal profitability, happy workplace, best in the business sorts of phrases often used in a vision statement. Vision is closely related to branding and leaders must help develop and support the brand by being creative in how they express the vision and seek to instill the vision in followers.
Influencing. By persuasive, we mean the vision itself will influence others to follow. Whether it is creative or just makes sense, people want to work toward the vision. But, the leader must also use influencing tactics to gain and maintain momentum and “sell” the path to achieve the vision. Influencing skills are key to gaining support for the vision. Support for a vision is not sustained if they are mere words.
Inspiration. Everyone agrees that excellent leaders inspire others to follow. We believe, however, that this inspiration is a conscious action that the leader must plan and consider how it is communicated to others. Much goes into inspiration – think about who inspires you and why they are effective in this competency.
Motivation. A persuasive vision must motivate others to move with the leader toward achieving the goals. Political leaders can inspire, even influence others; but, they must motivate their adherents to go to the polls and vote. Without motivation, a vision may sound good but not be achieved.
Planning. To achieve a vision, the leader, in collaboration with team members, must plan how it will happen. Planning involves the steps to follow toward achieving the vision, what resources are needed, and what is the schedule for the activities that make up the success of the vision.
Strategic Thinking. Leaders must look at the big picture and think about how what is done now relates to what is desired for the future. Strategic thinking is a competency that is critical in creating and leading toward a persuasive vision.
There are other competencies that play a role in developing a persuasive vision, but the six described above have the most critical impact on setting a vision that the team will buy into and fully support. Which of these persuasive vision competencies do you need to focus on to promote a persuasive vision?
Adapted from The Leadership Compass: Mapping Your Leadership Direction. Take a short online self-assessment of the competencies described in this blog to identify your strengths and areas of improvements in these 6 competencies.