How (Not) to Inspire a Shared Vision

Like millions of other Americans, I tuned in to hear President Obama’s second inaugural address.  The President is rightly admired for his strong oratory skills and ability to use communication as an effective leadership skill.  That’s why I was so disappointed in the speech.  While there were parts of the speech that resonated with me, overall I thought it landed flat.  As I reflected on my disappointment, I realized that the President had not inspired a shared vision.

If you lead within a church, a ministry, a non-profit, a business or a community, you must be able to communicate in order to lead.  As part of the communication responsibility, every leader must be able to inspire a shared vision.  An inspired vision pulls people forward.  It projects a clear image of a possible future and generates energy to strive toward the destination.

I think the President’s address can help us better understand how to inspire a shared vision.  Here are five components of an inspiring vision (adapted from Kouzes and Posner’s The Leadership Challenge) along with my two cents on how the President performed on each:

  1. An inspiring vision shares an IDEAL.  An ideal is a high standard to aspire to, an ennobling purpose and greater good we are seeking.    What followers need from our leaders is not a laundry list of ideals, but a single high standard to which we want to aspire.
  2. An inspiring vision is UNIQUE, it creates healthy pride in being different by creating an identity that is extraordinary.  An inspired vision helps followers know how we are collectively unique, singular, and unequaled.
  3. An inspiring vision uses IMAGE to make concepts tangible through descriptive language.   Word pictures, stories and symbols help make the vision more memorable and compelling. When a vision lacks true focus, the use of many images prevents the vision from being memorable.
  4. An inspiring vision is FUTURE-ORIENTED, looking toward a destination.  Visions describe an exciting possibility for the future and stretch our minds out into the future and asks us to dream.
  5. An inspiring vision is built around a COMMON GOOD, a way people can come together.  Visions are about developing a shared sense of destiny.  Followers must be able to see themselves and their interests served in the vision; they must see how they are a part of the vision in order to enlist others in it.

So how well do you think the President inspired a shared vision?  What worked and what missed the mark?  And what are some examples of leaders who did a masterful job of inspiring a shared vision?

Read the full article here.

Read more from Chad here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chad Hall

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.