Creating a Shared Vision: Two Great Ways to Work With Leaders & Teams | by Jennifer Britton

Coaching Team to Identify Vision

There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, achievable vision for the future, widely shared. Burt Nanus, Visionary Leadership

It's critical for leaders and organizations today to have a clear vision and share it with their teams. In times of disruption, our vision helps us through the ebbs and flows of business.

Because vision focuses on the horizon, it can help to soften what sometimes feels like a whiplash of change. Keeping an eye on the horizon allows us to aim our ships in that direction, especially in times of uncertainty.

And whether we're coaching leaders and teams, or supporting leaders in coaching their teams, exploring vision in different ways is immensely powerful. Having vision creates a tension between where you are now and where you want to be, often boosting motivation and action.

How to bring vision into the coaching conversation

There are several doorways into the coaching conversation around vision. The two we'll look closer at in this article are 1) Ask a team or group to explore a series of questions and 2) Undertaking a visualization.

Doorway number one: Ask questions

Let's first explore the doorway of questions. As I wrote in From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013), "Questions form the backbone of any coaching conversation."

As you go to explore your vision with a team, you might invite the team members to try the following exercise.

Imagine that it's one (or three, or five) years in the future and the team is coming together to celebrate its achievements. Consider:

  • What are the goals we have been working on?
  • What achievements have we had?
  • What have we been prioritizing?
  • What are we known for?
  • If we could not fail, what would we accomplish?
  • What are the values that underpin our work (customer service, integrity, etc.)?
  • What do the values look like in action (behaviourally)?
  • What strengths are we leveraging?
  • What focus have we been holding?
  • How does our work connect with others? Stand alone?
  • What are we saying no to, in order to hit, or exceed, the goals?
  • What is the core of our vision?

Doorway number two: Explore through visuals or visualization

Another doorway into the conversation around vision is to explore the landscape of visualization. From Co-active Coaching's superb Future Self Visualization to Shakti Gawain's book Creative Visualization, visualizations can be an illuminating resource.

One process I take groups through is the Draw Your Future™ Visualization, pioneered by Creative Genius founder Patti Dobrowolski. As Patti shares, people who visualize their success are 72% more successful in achieving their goals. Part of visualizing success involves activating the "reticular activating system", the part of our brain that scans constantly for information and determines which content we focus on.

An alternative is integrating visual cards into the conversation with your team or group - whether physically or digitally.

Simply lay out a selection of visual cards, then have each participant grab the one which represents what their vision is. Across the team, help the participants notice divergences and also common ground. Then, as a team, ask them to select one photo to represent the team's vision. The richness, learning and growth is in how this process unfolds and the resulting discussions.

Give structure to the vision

Once we have a vision, creating a structure around it to remind ourselves where we're going is important.

For example, the team might create a visible structure like the "Draw Your Future" map or a "Solar System" to represent where they want to go. Whatever form it takes, a visual structure anchors our vision and becomes a metaphor to share with others.

A final process you might undertake is to create a team storyboard mapping out key steps along the journey you want to take them on.

Wrap-up

Regardless of which doorway you use to explore, having a vision helps teams and individuals thrive—it helps with everything from decision making and prioritization to goal setting and subconscious percolation.

What can you do support leaders, teams and business owners in creating a powerful vision?

To learn more about visualizing with leaders, teams and business owners:

Contact Jennifer to book a "Draw Your Future" Session for you as an individual, group or team.

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Jennifer Britton

Contributing Author:

Jennifer Britton's book Effective Group Coaching was the first book in the world to be published on the topic of group coaching. Celebrating its 15th year, Jennifer's Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum programs have become known as the must-do training in the area of group coaching. Focused on providing coaches with best practices in designing, marketing and implementing group coaching, the program has helped hundreds of coaches launch their own group and team coaching programs in a wide variety of settings. Together both courses are approved for 18.75 CCEs with the ICF - learn more here.

Learn more about Jennifer & see all their articles here >>

Image of Team Coaching with Clients to Establish a Vision by Chaay_Tee via Shutterstock

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