First and foremost, one of the most important products of an effective team is a vision. In order for a team to really work well together, it’s necessary to create a commonly held image of the ideal outcome. Much like a blueprint for the construction of a building, a team’s vision provides guidance to its members as they plan the appropriate steps to pursue their goal. The team’s vision is saturated in values that add meaning and purpose to the team’s work together. Typically, it encompasses the product we are going to produce together and the process we’ll go through together. Engrained in our vision are our operating norms and commitments to one another and to the stakeholders of our team’s efforts.
Our vision is a step into our collective future because it’s a potential product in the making, and it’s built upon hope and hard work. It’s an ideal made to inspire others to input their best effort, and it’s a vehicle to raise the bar of the quality Vision 20 of product the team will produce.
According to Burt Nanus, author of Visionary Leadership, the following forces are unleashed when a successful vision is present:
- It attracts commitment and energizes people.
- It creates meaning in worker’s lives.
- It establishes a standard of excellence.
- It bridges the present and the past.
A. How Do You Know When Your Vision Isn’t Clear Or Accepted?
- Is there evidence that some team members are confused about the purpose? Are there frequent disagreements about priorities for the team’s focus or efforts? Are meetings unorganized, moving from one thought to another without direction or relevance?
- Are team members lifeless when together? Do team members complain about the lack of challenge or indicate that they dread getting together because they’re not having fun anymore? Are they cynical or pessimistic about the team’s project?
- Is the team losing credibility in the organization?
- Is the team out of sync with the organization’s priorities or trends?
- Is there excessive resistance among team members that are unwilling to accept responsibility or ownership for team projects?
- Do team members avoid risks and insist on sticking to their specific role?
- Is a shared sense of progress or momentum lacking on the team’s projects?
- Is there a hyperactive rumor mill because people are constantly working on their issues outside of the team rather than confronting issues openly and directly within the team?
B. Forces That Hinder Team Efforts To Establish A Vision
- Overemphasis on task– The desire to immediately become productive can seduce a group into grabbing the first and most apparent symptom and its seemingly “obvious solution.” Following an intense, and often unfocused, flurry of activity, the group fails to make any real impact. Sadly, this is often chalked up as additional evidence that “teams don’t work” rather than appropriately acknowledged as the result of an ineffective, unstructured initial attempt.
- Assuming that the goal is obvious- Just as multiple witnesses of an accident will later describe the event in very different ways, each member of a team perceives the desired outcome of the team’s efforts from a unique, biased, personal perspective. While the perceptions may be related, they will rarely form an aligned vision. In reality, to create a clear vision, a committed discussion about desired outcomes must take place. Members must be willing to confront differences and to create consensus.