As outlined in my last blog, step two of “8 Vital Steps for Executive Teamwork and Organization Development” is visioning your ideal culture (or team). For years I’ve used variations of this critical step for team building, culture development, conflict resolution, strategic planning, etc., at Leadership Team Retreats.
Many leaders confuse goal setting and visioning. The pioneering French psychologist, Émile Coué, broadly framed the difference when he wrote, “Imagery may be the highest form of mental energy we have. Reason can analyze and organize, but only imagination can create. It is through imagination that we create the future — ours and the worlds.”
We first start imagery or visioning exercises with a look at this contrast and balance from The Leader’s Digest:
Here’s the process I often use when working with a team of more than six leaders:
- Individual participants silently make notes on the ideal culture and leadership behaviors he or she envisions for their team/organization.
- In small groups (no more than 7 people), hear each group member’s vision — no discussion/debating.
- Once you’re heard everyone’s vision, the recorder captures the most striking images/examples and/or summarizes key vision themes (needs to be more descriptive than generalities or single words like “teamwork” or “trust”).
- Hand in your group’s top (one Post-It-Note per image/example) snapshots.
We then cluster the Post-It-Notes and put headings on each grouping.
This approach pulls together and synthesizes everyone’s vision. Hundreds of times I’ve seen the magnetizing and energizing effect it has on aligning a team or board and getting everyone pointed in the same direction. Try it with your team and experience its inspiring and galvanizing impact.