Inspiring vision, part 3: make sure people choose

In a time of change, your ability to create an inspiring vision is what will draw people to your project, motivate them to stay, and inspire them to deliver results.

There is no fixed template for how to achieve this: no two inspiring leaders are the same. But just as every great painting is formed from the same basic colours, and every great piece of music comes from the same basic notes, so every great vision is formed from the same basic building blocks, combined and arranged in different ways.

The third building block is to ask your audience to make a choice: are they with you?

You want people to change their behaviour: you want them to start to support your project. You need them to decide whether they will or not.

In doing so, it might seem to make sense to push people as hard as you can. But if you steamroller people into joining you, rather than letting them make up their own minds, then every time an issue arises you will have to convince them all over again. A better approach is to let each audience make up their own minds, but make sure they choose.

The CEOs of Unilever and Apple both know this. In recent years both have effectively said to their shareholders, “This is where we are going. If you don’t like it, get out of the stock.” They are sure of their direction and they know that investors who are not committed to travelling the same path will be a drain on their time and energy. In a churning world, this is time and energy they do not have to spare.

The same applies to your employees, customers, and anybody else whose support you want. Nobody can tell another person what to do. And no matter what they say to your face, each person will make up their own minds eventually anyway.

The more you can inspire people to choose, for their own reasons, to travel with you through an imperfect world, the more you will build a team that actively works to find the opportunities in the problems that arise, rather than questioning every step of the journey.

All you can do is two things. Use the other six building blocks to build a vision-story that is inspiring enough for people to make it their own. Then make sure they choose: are they on the bus or off the bus? Are they going to lead, follow, or get out of the way?

Once you have the right people with you, then you can decide where you want to travel, and how quickly.

Adapted from Inner Leadership.

Photo By Sasquatch I via

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