One of the fundamental works of leaders involves crafting and deploying a compelling vision. In the previous article, we examined ways through which leaders can effectively redefine an organization’s vision to do this. This current article seeks to build on the previous article by focusing on the art of thinking & dreaming big when crafting a compelling vision.
Thinking big is important when crafting a vision for any organization. Many times, leaders don’t spend as much time on this because they don’t prioritize it. The day to day tactical level decisions consume most of their time, leaving them with little to no time for consideration of the strategic future of their organization. The first step in thinking big and crafting a compelling vision is making time, otherwise referred to as ‘prioritizing the big picture’. It is advisable to get away from everything else and spend quality time focusing on visualizing, thinking and crafting your BIG VISION. The ideal aim of this time would be to have a clearer picture of where you want your company to be. This is not a time to think of how to achieve your vision, the focus should be on the ‘why’. A key ingredient when engaging in those visioning sessions is to remain open to a wide range of possibilities.
However, for many other leaders, it isn’t necessarily time but fears that keep them from thinking big. Below are 5 reasons leaders may be scared of thinking big.
5 fears that hinder leaders from thinking big
- It can pose a very challenging task to think big due to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous external environment of the business world. Leaders can become discouraged when they see the magnitude of the task at hand as well as a world that offers no form of stability. Some leaders back out at this point and opt to think small and focus on what they know for sure is working, even if that is guaranteed to be short-lived.
- For some other leaders, the idea and need to think big is crystal clear in their minds and have begun the process of thinking big, but as they see the complexity and effort involved in achieving a vision, they begin to back out and play down the vision. Many times, this is coupled with the fear of not wanting to rock the organizational boat, thereby resulting in minor incremental changes.
- Another fear is the lack of willingness to put in the work. Having a vision that stretches the boundaries requires hard work, consistency, and dedication. Many leaders aren’t willing or ready to commit to that level of hard work, so they settle for lesser work commitments that are within their comfort zone.
- Several leaders have spoken about the reality of a big vision. Big visions never leave the company the same way it was, it shakes things up. There have been instances of new visions leading to a complete reposition of an organization’s offering, while in other organizations, a big vision has led to a restructuring overhaul within certain organizations. The thought of these can be scary for some leaders, which leads some to never executing a vision.
- Another major fear that hinders thinking big is the fear of failure. What if it doesn’t work out? What if we do badly? The fear of being referred to as incompetent when a proposed vision fails is a common reason a leader would choose to maintain the status quo and barely make the impact he envisioned for the organization.
Ways of overcoming those fears
- Thinking big requires Boldness: Being adventurous and speaking out.
- A way to overcome the fear of thinking big is to change the perspective you have of it. A way to begin is by viewing obstacles as opportunities. Great leaders think about visions as an opportunity to create an amazing future that is unfolding.
- Figure out ‘why’ you want to accomplish this vision? This will spur you to follow through. If your ‘why’ is weak, your follow-through will be weak as well. Dig deep and let your why be true and real to you.
- Include others in your vision-crafting process. When crafting a vision, it is helpful to involve trusted advisors in your thought process. Our next article speaks more in-depth about this.
If thinking big looks daunting now, don’t worry, the key is to start anyways. Progress not perfection is key. Our next article on testing assumptions by seeking counsel and exploring implications will further examine ways we can test out the reliability and sensibility of our vision in non-threatening but highly effective ways.