Leaders are visionaries. They paint a picture of the way things will be.
How to go from vision to reality.
Share the vision often.
As President of NCI, my staff suggested that we communicate the vision more. Before hearing this, I felt that I had been speaking about the vision all the time – maybe even too often.
I talked more about the vision – in person, in writing, and through senior staff, managers, and supervisors. The outcome – NCI moved toward the vision faster. More sharing is strategically better to inform and stimulate creativity, innovation, and progress toward results.
Be concise and specific about the goal.
Just over 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy shared with Congress the vision of sending a man to the moon by the end of the decade (i.e., the 1960's). The vision was realized by Apollo 11 in July 1969 as Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man & giant leap for mankind.”
Kennedy was very clear on the what and when of the vision.
Use vivid terms to create an image for the listener – keep it 'visual'; avoid painting a map showing the path to the vision – a map can stifle creativity and innovation.
Celebrate victory when achieving the vision or when reaching a crossroads which calls for new or updated vision. Give closure to your supporters – in a novel, when the writer skips to new scene without completing the current one, it is disappointing to the reader and often confusing as well.
Take it seriously.
A vision needs to be challenging but possible – if it's difficult that's OK. Imagine the outcome if Kennedy had chosen time travel as the target for the '60s.
Once committed, ride it out – don't let the flame die from inattention or the press of other business.
A leader who communicates a powerful vision can move an organization to achieve great results. Almost like predicting the future.