How Leaders Communicate an Inspirational Vision


My all-time favorite book on the topic of leadership is called the Leadership Challenge, written by Kouzes and Posner.  Through years of research, they have summarized the key behaviors of leaders into 5 distinct practices (see prior blogs for more background).

Kouzes and Posner identified five common concepts in their survey of leaders internationally, and derived from them these five practices of Leadership:

  • Model the Way
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Challenge the Process
  • Enable Others to Act
  • Encourage the Heart

In our last blog, we discussed the powerful need for VISION with respect to leadership behaviors.  It is not enough to just have a clear and compelling vision.  Your vision as a leader needs to be communicated and aligned with the people who work on your team.  Your vision and their ideals come together and energizes the team to achieve great things.  Here are some practical steps to guide you in communicating to inspire a shared vision.

  1. What are the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the people on your team?

Every person on your team has their own passions, and plans for the future.  How does your vision align with those?  How does it make their dreams possible?

Tell them how growing a great organization moves them closer to their own dreams

  1. What are the higher order values your team shares with you?

Everyone wants to know that what they do matters, that they can make a difference in the world for good.  Whether it is freedom, justice, happiness, excitement, self-respect, or autonomy—we all have values that resonate deep within us.

 Tell your team how their work is an expression of those values

  1. What are unique roles each of your team members play?

When everyone on a team sees how their work matters, no matter how big or small it may seem, they gain a great sense of pride.  Pride leads to energy and creativity!  Take time to get to know the contributions of each person and their jobs and tasks.

Tell each person specifically how what they do contributes to the big picture and moves the organization forward 

Communication Techniques that Inspire

You will hear people say charisma is the fundamental quality of good leaders.  But when you ask people to define it, they cannot.  They treat charisma as if it were some kind of mysterious, elusive quality, and only a few discover they have it.  Not so!

Charismatic people are simply those who speak authentically and with more animation

 As we have said in prior blogs, leaders must believe in their own vision—they must walk the talk of their own values.  People have incredible intuition.  They will either feel your authenticity and integrity, or the lack of it.  If you yourself are not convinced of where you are headed, it is certain that no one else will be.

The kind of language that evokes emotions and inspires behavior is chock full of analogies, stories, anecdotes, and word pictures.  Leaders take time to pick words that label and describe with rich imagery the world of their vision.  They find quotes that resonate, because someone, somewhere, in the past first said it best, and they re-share that and bring it to life again.

Leaders talk about values, common ideals we all share, and they detail how the vision is in line with those ideals.  They are optimistic, avoiding negativity, at all costs.  This positivity arouses emotions.  They share a palpable vision, an achievable dream, and they share it often and personally with everyone they speak with.