Good leaders often speak of the importance of vision. “When the WHY is big enough”, they say, “HOW doesn’t matter”. Countless hours are spent in crafting both the perfect vision statement and the appropriate graphical representation of that vision. The vision is then repeated and pasted all over walls, literature, stationary, and social media. Exposure is the goal. After all, our vision is SO compelling, all it needs is for people to be exposed to the idea and the methods will sell itself… right?
Before I go further, please hear me correctly. I believe in the power of focused verbiage. I believe your vision must be compelling enough to be worth the effort it will require to see it come to reality, but I see too many leaders stop with crafting a compelling vision statement. Branding is important, but branding is not enough. Graphics are important, but graphics won’t solidify your vision in the hearts and minds of those that you want to lead. Exposure to your vision is certainly an important step in the process of reaching others, but the key to sustaining your vision is engagement.
Many understand the difference between exposure and engagement and the impact the latter has as it relates to the use of social media. Having many followers on your social media channels is definitely a boost to one’s ego, but if these same followers aren’t prompted to buy your new book or listen to your new podcast when you announce its availability, what actual benefit do you see from having these followers? What is most desirable on your social media channel isn’t just exposure to the vision, but engagement with the vision. It is much the same with those that we lead.
By this point, you might be wondering what all of this has to do with the title of the article. Simply put, the power of your presence is a key ingredient to making your vision manifest in the life of your organization. As a leader, you are not valuable if you are not visible. I’m not writing about the visibility that comes with a stage or an advertisement. Instead, these are things so simple that they are often overlooked, but if you will apply these things to your leadership approach it will significantly increase the organizational buy-in to the vision and the enthusiasm in the carrying out of the same.
People Will Not Follow What They Do Not Trust
Nothing breeds an atmosphere of mistrust like assumptions. The fastest way to kill assumptions is to remove them. The most effective (though not always most efficient) way to remove assumptions is to allow your example to remove all doubt as to your motivation. Your team may not always understand your methods, but they should never have room to question your motivation. Your involvement- or lack thereof- in living out your vision in front of your team will do more to squash any negative rumors than your public relations department ever will.
People Will Trust Your Actions- Every Time
Your words mean a little. Your actions mean a lot. Consistently taking intentional time to get to both know and care for those that you lead will pay dividends in the long-term. Remembering and celebrating that Susie’s child has a championship softball tournament coming up or that Levar’s child received a scholarship to his favorite university develops a feeling of camaraderie and trust among the team. Skip this type of intentional investment and you’ll pay the consequences. If you want the team to buy-in to your vision, you must first buy into your team.
People Cannot Become What They Have Not Beheld
Model your mantra. The best example of your organization’s vision will not come from cleverly-crafted statements or a clearly-presented PowerPoint Presentation. The best example of your organization’s vision will come from you, the leader, showing your team exactly what it means to live the vision. Simply put- vision that is lived is vision that will live.
When the essence of leadership is trust, you are missing a massive opportunity if your daily pattern consists of sitting in a back-office environment without engagement with your team. Be careful not to fall into the trap of email and text as your only form of communication with your team. This sounds common sense, but really evaluate the number of communications you’ve had with your team and what methods you’ve used. We often intend to have more interaction that we do, but often we get “busy”. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.
Good leaders speak of vision. Effective leaders display vision.
Dr. Zebulan Hundley is an author, speaker, leadership coach, and the host of the podcast, Life-Giving Leadership with Dr. Zeb. With a doctorate in Church Leadership, Dr. Zeb specializes in non-profit leadership environments where volunteers comprise a majority of the workforce. His experience comes not only from the non-profit sector, but also from his time in for-profit corporations and in the U.S. Army. He currently serves as the Executive Pastor at Hope Church in Warner Robins, GA and has recently released his book, Learning the Art of Effective Leadership. Follow him on Facebook & Instagram @zebulanhundleyauthor