Why I Carry A Clear Backpack
by author and Church Consultant, Barry Winders
Being a visionary leader is not an exact science. The way we think about our priorities makes a huge impact. Making decisions and deciding what to do next is what leaders think about more than anything else. Questions abound. How do I decide what’s next? Do my decisions reflect the vision and not the squeaking wheel? Is it a strategy or a reaction to a previous action, urgency, or value? These questions and more should be considered in our decisions.
Now, let’s probe a bigger question especially before the vision falls into the other hands. How will my vision be disseminated and explained by others…team members, faculty, staff, etc.?
Imagine as a visionary leader you are carrying a clear backpack to show transparency with your vison supportive tools. Two things are present here. One, by leading with a clear backpack, others can see your vision with clarity. Two, team members, faculty, and staff can see the tools they can use to accurately carry your vision (the way you want it) to the larger audience.
What are the supportive tools in the clear backpack?
- Share your perspective on a flash drive
Share your notes, values, and priorities that went into your visionary view. Tell others what data, stories, comments you collected. Tell others about the resources you read and the podcasts you listen to. Discuss the personal growth tools you consistently use. Talk about the conversations you have publicly and privately and how they are consistent. Share the struggles you experienced as a leader to get the vision right. More importantly, clearly state your why. Answer for the organization the question “What’s your why?”
- The exact wording of your vision in 9 words or less.
Take command of your vision. Protect it. Trust it. Fewer words make the vision memorable and portable. Few words increase conciseness and clarity and does not allow more additional “wordy” additives.
- How to align person growth goals to complete and compliment the leader’s vision.
This is key. Show a diagram of how vision helps an organization find its way forward. Illustrate to those who see into your clear backpack of tools how vision isn’t always linear. Point out that Margaret Wheatly distinguishes between a traditional “linear” view of vision and a “circular” view. A linear view points to a destination to arrive. A circular vision acts as a magnet pulling everything to its dream. This is where the personal growth of those who carry the vision is critical. How so? Because their personal growth feeds into the circular vision, one begins to see how their life fits into it.
- Write a note of encouragement for vision carriers to align their personal growth goals to complete and compliment their leaders’ vision.
Consider which employees, staff and faculty members are already aligned to the vision. Challenge them to personal growth. The personal growth of an individual helps them to interact with a vision of their leader and the organization. If an individual is not growing personally it will be hard for them to embrace and promote the vision given to them. This is where decisions must be made to make sure the right people are on the bus (so to speak) and the wrong people are off the bus. This is not an easy decision for any leader. Nevertheless, everyone needs to be rowing in the same direction and online with the vision and direction.
- Write another note and offer to meet one on one with those who are on the bus (embracing the vision) but doing their own thing.
Never assume that once an associate says they agree with the vision that everything is “hunky dory”. Embracing the vision will no doubt change the behavior and activities for everyone. Period. Changed behavior, habits, and thinking are evidence that the larger vision has permeated them and they have no competing visions of their own at work. Which employee, faculty or staff member(s) do this? Can they be a mentor for others to watch?
In summary, this clear back pack approach can help shape how we understand vision, personal growth and many other elements of leadership as well.