6 Steps to Steward the Power of Vision
I remember a friend calling me one day for some advice. She and her husband were at a crossroads. The couple had sold their home and most of their possessions to take a job across the country, leaving family and close friends behind.
It was a risky adventure, but the vision of the organization compelled them. The organization had some audacious goals but not outside of the realm of possibility. They were excited about the possibilities. They asked lots of questions and took time to process their opportunity with friends and mentors. They sought God for guidance and eventually, leaped.
Now they were struggling. They had made tremendous sacrifices only to discover that the organization wasn’t ready to pursue their vision cast. This family was in upheaval because the leader didn’t fully understand the power of vision.
Sound crazy or extreme? Sadly, change the names and organizations, and I hear a version of this story nearly every day.
Vision is Essential for Individuals, Teams, and Organizations
Proverbs remind us, “without vision people perish.” Those of us who are visionary by nature use this scripture to help us find significance in the visionary gift we have.
But visions are dangerously powerful, and leaders who don’t understand this power have the potential to cause irreparable damage to the people they lead.
One of my greatest concerns for leaders is that we don’t fully grasp the weight of our influence on others. Influence, by definition, means, “the power to change or affect someone.” Let this sink in, the POWER to change someone. Our position of influence gives us a power that quite literally changes or at a minimum affects another person’s life.
Think about the influence your parents had on your life or your first boss. How about your soccer coach or piano teacher. Your life has been shaped by their influence, positively and negatively.
Visionary leaders create hope and possibilities. They appeal to a person’s dreams and goals defining a preferred future. The better a leader is at casting a compelling vision, the more influence they’ll wield.
At their best, a visionary not only casts an inspiring vision, but they have the wherewithal to see that vision come to fruition. And while people may perish without a vision, we also know that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” When a leader doesn’t have the ability to see a vision become a reality, they create pain and hopelessness for those they lead.
The Dangerous Power of Vision
Visions have enormous power. And a vision in the hands of strong leaders wields extraordinary power. Power in and of itself is not bad, but power wielded carelessly leaves carnage.
Too often, I see leaders cast a vision and pursue it without a full understanding of the cost and impact. They get starry-eyed with the thrill of accomplishing a goal that we underestimate what it will cost, especially in human capital.
We’ve seen this play out with the business professional who scales the corporate ladder at the expense of his family. He cast a vision that working hard would acquire their “American Dream,” but underestimated the sacrifice of family relationships.
We’ve witnessed the fast-growing church with their audacious growth goal that gets blindsided by moral failure. They were racing so fast towards the vision that they blew past the warning signs.
We’ve read the stories of start-up companies that hire for rapid growth only to make drastic cuts when investment funds run out. But we can steward the power of vision.
6 Steps to Help You Steward the Power of Vision
1. Refine your vision with the wisdom of others. Visionary leaders nearly always underestimate what their ideas will entail. Often, they are removed from frontline activity; they have lost touch with what it takes to bring an idea to life. Don’t cast your vision to the masses until you’ve worked it out with a team of people who can help you understand what it will take. And by the way, make sure you listen in this conversation. Your gregariousness and charm can woo others easily.
2. Slow down and be cautious. Once you’ve received critical feedback, count the cost for accomplishing this vision. What will it take? What will you risk? Who will take risks? What will it cost?
3. Get in touch with reality. As you’ve processed the impact and the cost, think through the critical points in this vision. What key conversations will you need to have? Who may try to derail it? How likely are they to succeed? What difficult decisions will you have to navigate to keep the vision on track? What happens and who is impacted if the vision isn’t realized?
4. Count the cost. What will this require of you? Will it pull you from other priorities and if so, what is the potential impact? What will it take financially? Do you have the margin to pursue it? What will it require of your staff? What will they give up? If you’re recruiting people based on the vision, what are they risking, and if you were in their shoes, would you take the risk?
5. Proceed humbly. If you have taken the time to process well and feel compelled to move forward with the vision, hold it humbly. Acknowledge what it is required of everyone, every step of the way.
6. Evaluate your “why?” What motivates you to this vision? Is it a vision you would pursue even if it cost you everything?
Leadership is Sacred Work
Leaders, you have the sacred responsibility of stewardship, and the two most precious things you’ll steward are vision and people. They are inextricably linked – “without vision people perish,” but without people, visions are just pipe dreams.
We need you to be visionaries. We need you to dream great, God-sized dreams. Please don’t shrink away from that; however, we need you to recognize the power of those visions equally. If they are not birthed of God and nurtured with humility, you risk wielding your power dangerously.
Leadership is a sacred work. Visionary leadership is powerful work. May you sacredly steward your power for the glory of God and the good of others.
Keep leading well.
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
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As leaders, we’re full of ideas and initiatives. We see potential and opportunity all around. We can almost taste the outcome, but often we get bogged down by how we’ll get from here to there.
The “how” can be overwhelming and discouraging so we give up on our goals or fail to build a plan to help us actually achieve them.
These five steps will get you and your team on the path to moving from ideas to action! We’d love to have you join our community and access this free PDF!
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.