Vision is the ability to see or imagine the future we desire to create. A very wise king once said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This is certainly true for projects. Projects perish without vision and direction. Establishing vision and direction provides the team proper alignment. It also provides them a purpose to exist as a team and allows them to work more effectively toward project goals and outcomes.
Creating a project vision is a fundamental leadership and team alignment skill. Project managers can establish vision in three simple steps: First, they must allow the team to help create the vision; second, they must achieve team buy-in; and finally, they must provide appropriate motivation to keep team members focused on the vision.
The coaching analogy is also important here. A coach can lead the team through vision creation. A coach can also encourage and motivate the team to achieve great things on the field.
However, the coach cannot play the game for the players. The coach’s job is to climb above the fray, look over the horizon and provide an assurance the team is headed in the right direction to achieve the vision. The team’s job is to align themselves with the vision and perform to the best of their abilities. Great project managers lead like a coach, provide vision and direction, and motivate team members to achieve the vision.
A great leader once said, “The best way to produce success on a project is to provide vision and direction and then get out of the way!” Empowerment is the embodiment of getting out of the way. Too many project managers find themselves trying to play the game for their players, rather than truly trying to lead them. Great project managers pull themselves out of the entangling weeds, trust their people, keep them focused on the vision and empower them to perform.
It is truly amazing what can happen on a project when managers become leaders and empower their teams to perform. General Colin Powell once said in a leadership presentation in Chicago, “The vast majority of the workforce possesses far more capability, creativity, talent, initiative and resourcefulness than their present job allows.” Wise project managers do not squelch creativity and talent by micromanaging their people. They tap into this power and resourcefulness to help a project achieve success.