Barbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Casting a vision requires focus
Updated: Dec 3, 2022
How do you feel when a problem you are dealing with or an initiative you are leading becomes overwhelming? The list of things to do keeps growing rather than shrinking. Those you are leading are complaining or dropping out.
This happens all too often. We have lost our vision - clarity about your situation and your desired destination - and we need to find it again. As leaders, we need to cast that vision for our team.
The saying, “don’t miss the forest for the trees,” encourages us to not get bogged down in the details of a situation and lose sight of the “big picture.” However, to truly understand a situation, we actually need to see the forest and the trees.
To do this, imagine having glasses that work like a camera with a lens that allows us to zoom from a wide-angle view to focus close up on minute details and then zoom out again. This image can assist us as communicators and leaders in gaining a full understanding of a situation or problem.
How can I understand people and problems?
In our series on effective leadership, we have discussed the importance of understanding people and showing your audience how much you care by assessing their needs and demonstrating empathy. In addition to understanding people, an effective communicator must clearly understand the situation or problem being dealt with.
Before creating communication or taking action, an effective communicator thoroughly studies the situation, collecting the facts, exploring the problem from every angle, both wide and close up, determining the results desired, and considering the pros and cons of all potential solutions.
How can I examine the evidence?
Effective communicators use research skills to examine the evidence. They:
define the problem
review the evidence from past as well as current situations
determine approaches to study the problem further
collect and analyze the data
determine what is known and what is still unknown
use the evidence to determine a course of action.
Why should I involve the audience?
These activities are best accomplished with the people being served and shared in an open and transparent fashion. Working with the audience to understand the problem and determine a course of action, continues to demonstrate how much the communicator cares about the audience and meeting their needs.
As the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, wisely said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, we did it ourselves.”
How do I envision the desired outcomes?
As you examine solutions with others, are you skilled at envisioning your shared destination and clearly painting that vision for them? Can you effectively help them envision the end goals? Can you help them see a new improved forest consisting of new and improved trees?
Here’s what Simon Sinek says about the need for leaders to be able to cast a vision, “Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly.”
How do I communicate with clarity?
Communicating with clarity boils down to simplifying your message, using words the audience understands, supporting it with relevant evidence, and using illustrations that are meaningful to them.
If you have taken the time to know your audience and understand the situation alongside them, doing this well is so very doable. Your vision will be in focus.
How do I lead with change?
The most effective communicators are not only skilled at envisioning change and being able to lead others toward a desired outcome, but they also role model a willingness to learn, grow and change. They don’t just expect others to change, they lead with change. They cast a vision and lead the way toward making it a reality.
I created a useful worksheet titled “Action Plan for Change” and you can find it here along with “5 Questions to Inspire your Audience to Action”: https://www.nutritioncommunicator.com/tip-sheets
Determine your desired destination and why you want to get there. Be able to clearly communicate that vision to others. Take the first step. Keep going. When you arrive – celebrate!
“Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly.” ~ Simon Sinek
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