Leaders inspire a shared vision.

Leadership experts Kouzes and Posner – whose teaching has left a global footprint for a few decades – advocate that leaders need to inspire a shared vision. In contrast, previous generations of charismatic leaders had rallied people around their vision. Times have changed, and transformative leaders now sensitize themselves to their people’s perspectives. When these leaders paint a shared picture of the future, their followers see themselves in the mirror of the organization’s future state.

“To enlist people in a vision, you as a leader must know your constituents and speak their language. People must believe that the leader understands their needs and has their interests at heart. Only through an intimate knowledge of their dreams, hopes, aspirations, visions, and values are you able to enlist support. Leadership is a dialogue, not a monologue.” – Kouzes and Posner

Complementary to these leadership principles, the Prosci ADKAR model (awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, reinforcement) considers the context of the business environment, the organization, and the most precious asset, the people when managing change.

Drawing from the complementary concepts above, consider a few practical pointers for sponsors (leaders) to incorporate into the change journey.

This initial stage of working with a group of people enables you to:

  • Build a shared vision as you proactively invite others to add color and detail to a desired future state of the organization.
  • Listen to people representing all stakeholders
  • Move ownership to the people
  • Anticipate the questions people will ask and the challenges you will face
  • Build a change network team that can help you keep a finger on the pulse as you the change unfolds.

These are some important considerations to keep in mind as you transition to lead the broader organization.

Communicate ‘Why.’ This point correlates to the A for Awareness in the ADKAR model. People need to understand why the change is taking place, what is going to change, and the risks of not changing. “Leaders forge unity of purpose by showing constituents how the dream is good for the common good.”- Kouzes and Posner

Foster’ Desire.’ The second point in the ADKAR model highlights the positive aspects of change individually. WIIFM – what’s in it for me? It is paramount that C-suite leaders and middle managers create alignment between people’s aspirations and the aspirations of the entire organization in a preferred future state.

Move from Monologue to Dialogue.  Just as you took time to listen to the initial group you assembled, have this sensitized group as an extension of your leadership. One of the ways they can do this is by spending time attentively listening to the people. To

enlist others in a shared vision, you need to think about the people who are impacted – and how your team can spend time interacting with and inspiring them. Who are they? Be sure to include as many groups as you can identify –  for example, different categories of employees, customers, shareholders, and vendors.  Think about what motivates these different groups.

Always think ‘we.’ In Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, there is a key transition. He repeatedly starts to use the word we instead of l.   His extraordinary dream was not self-centered. It was a dream that reflected the longings of all African Americans.  It was a shared dream.  How can you focus more on we?  Increase your interactions with staff, stay close to the change network, speak from the heart, and strive to make the intangible tangible. Listen, listen, and listen some more.