Inspiring vision, part 3: make sure people choose

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

It’s not the difficulty of the path that matters but how inspiring it is.

There is no fixed template for how to achieve this: no two great 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 inspiring vision is formed from the same basic building blocks, combined in different ways.

The third building of these building blocks is to ask your audience to make a choice: will they join you?

You want people to start to support your project, so it might seem to make sense to push them as hard as you can. But if you steamroller people into joining you then every time an issue arises you will have to convince them all over again.

Better instead to let each person make up their own minds, but for you to 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 investors, employees, customers, and anybody else whose support you need. Nobody can tell another person what to do. And no matter what they say to your face, every person will make up their own minds anyway.

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

What you can do to encourage this is two things:

  1. Use the other six building blocks to build a vision-story that is inspiring enough for people to make it their own,
  2. Make sure they choose:
    Are they on the bus or off the bus? Will they lead, follow, or get out of the way?

If you follow this approach then the people who join you will be enthusiastic and self-motivated. Then you can work together to travel wherever you want to go, no matter how difficult it seems.

Adapted from Inner Leadership.

Photo By Sasquatch I via

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