Setting direction for your team is all about creating the vision for the future. As a leader, depending on your role and organizational structure, you may be setting direction for your team, for your department, or for the entire organization.
Direction is long-term. There is some risk involved because we don’t know what the future will hold. Many times unexpected developments will disrupt our current thinking. However, setting direction is a vital part of being a leader.
On the management side, it’s really easy to get into planning and budgeting, because we’re thinking in our day-to-day short-term thoughts, like “How can we eliminate and reduce risk?” We want order and control. Management gives us plans and measurements. Vision casting gives us direction and strategy. If we stay in plans and measures, we won’t be able to look forward into the future.
Now is the time to pause and set direction for your team. Here are some common roadblocks to avoid when casting that vision:
- Jumping to Tactics
During strategic planning, many of us want to jump immediately into the tactics. We focus on strategies that will help us accomplish our vision, without first spending time on crafting our vision.
A “vision statement” is a message that describes where you are going and what success means to you. By its very nature, a vision statement requires a separate roadmap describing how you can get there. It’s important for a leader to understand their role: if you are setting direction for your team or functional area, that vision has to align with the organizational vision.
For example, the vision of Jennifer Maxson & Associates is to be the premier leadership development partner for our clients. Our purpose is to inspire leaders for today and tomorrow. This informs not only our programming and service offerings, but also how we treat each other, where we choose to invest our time and resources, and how we decide whether to pursue new initiatives. Focus on the vision statement first, and the strategies will naturally follow.
- Being Too Wordy
Many times we go through a strategic planning process and end up with a huge binder of our strategic plan. The binder is nice and makes us feel prepared, but it’s too thick and intense to be referenced in everyday life. It will probably end up collecting dust on your shelf. What we need to leave with is a one-page document that concisely explains your vision. This will allow your whole team to see where we are going and the key priorities.
Instead of a binder, consider a short roadmap format. Include 3-5 strategic priorities that will help you achieve your overall mission. You know they are valid if achieving these strategic priorities will help you live into your purpose as an organization. A shorter document like this can be referenced in every team meeting, if desired. It should be re-evaluated regularly. Everything you are working on should help you get close to achieving your vision.
- Not Involving Your Team
Setting direction is not a solo job. If you want the strongest, most aligning vision for your team, the best practice is to involve your team in setting that direction. As a leader, you have to remain open to hearing the insights and ideas from others. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Your teammates will have valuable insight into how the vision can be set and achieved.
If you are holding a strategic planning session, consider involving an outside facilitator. This helps ensure the result doesn’t become your vision, but remains the team vision.
Are you ready to set direction for your team? We can help every step of the way. Contact us for more information about leadership development, strategic planning, and facilitating a group session.