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Home Perspectives The Art of Getting Buy-In to the Vision

The Art of Getting Buy-In to the Vision

Even the most “on-fire” leaders cannot accomplish extraordinary things alone. Neither is this God’s purpose. He wants an army of ordinary people to do His will, not just spiritual superstars.

Leaders must take steps to rally others around a common vision.

  • Identify their constituents. Leaders must first identify all those who have a stake in the outcome of what they envision. This will include all the members of their church or ministry, other leaders, and even members of the community. Broad visions need broad support to be accomplished.
  • Appeal to a common purpose. No matter how grand the vision is, if people don’t see in it the possibility of realizing their own hopes and dreams, they won’t follow. By knowing their constituents, leaders are able to fuse them together around a common purpose.

If they are to embrace it, the vision must be genuinely meaningful to the people. When the people perceive that their leader’s vision is meant to serve them rather than just serve the leader, the following occurs:

  1. They will permit the leader to deviate from certain organizational norms and traditions.
  2. They will have a greater tolerance of whatever personality quirks the leader may have.
  3. They will be more willing to suspend their judgment of innovative or risky proposals advocated by the leader.
  4. Failures are not likely to be evaluated as harshly.
  5. The leader will have the credibility necessary to garner the people’s commitment to the vision and to the hard work it will take to achieve it.

Often, the people are not as wedded to the status quo as their leaders think they are. Many times, people are waiting on their leaders!

  • Listen first – and often. Listening is one of the key characteristics of exemplary leaders. By taking time to listen, leaders can hear what their constituents want included in the vision, and thus build a truly shared destiny. This process is not a monologue but a dialogue. An effective leader does not merely impose his own personal dream, but he develops a shared sense of purpose.

There is a balance between the top leader establishing the direction for the organization and the people participating in that process. Here is how the process works. The top leader establishes the general direction for the people in accordance with the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. But then each subgroup within the church or ministry is free to develop more specific focus within, and aligned with, the overall broad vision. The initial broad vision for the organization is essentially unilateral; there is minimal dialogue. The dialogue increases as the scope is narrowed to individual ministries, and individuals within those ministries. Individual leaders within the organization should dialogue with the primary vision carrier as they define their own specific place and purpose.

The degree to which the establishment of the vision is a dialogue is relative to the broadness of the vision as well as to the following:

  • The top leader’s personal involvement in the carrying out of the agenda. As this decreases, the vision should become more of a dialogue. The people who actually do it should define it and refine it.
  • Fineness of detail. As this increases, the vision becomes more a dialogue. The top leader will not be in touch with all the necessary details of what goes on.
  • Scope of possibilities. As these increase, dialogue should increase.
  • Breathe life into the vision. By using vivid metaphors, stories, symbols and slogans, and by communicating with fire and enthusiasm, leaders make their intangible vision come alive so that others can see it, hear it, taste it and touch it.
  • Speak positively. There is no room for tentativeness when we share the vision. The obstacles and difficulties should be addressed, but not dwelled on. Leaders must express to their followers that, together, they are well able to succeed and to “take the land”!
  • To be effective, vision must be shared with clarity, passion and credibility. Clarity so the people know where to go; passion so they want go; and credibility so they are willing to follow a leader they trust.
  • Speak from the heart. The greatest inhibitor to enlisting others in a common vision is a lack of personal conviction. Others will never share a dream if the leader is not fully convinced of it himself. Leaders must genuinely believe in their own dream; then the vision will live and compel. Moreover, leaders must believe in the future of their followers. If the leader does not believe in it, how can he convince them to? The leader must believe his own vision and it will become alive as he shares it with his people. According to C.T. Studd a leader must be able to speak with seven times the passion he wants the people to possess. They may not be clear about all the technical details, but leaders’ hearts should beat with a passionate vision.

You may have the highest purpose in the world, but if you don’t share that vision with your constituents, and do it in such a way that it captures their hearts, they will not follow you.

Malcolm Webber
Malcolm Webber
Originally from Australia, Malcolm came to Christ in 1980. He is married to Ruth; they have six children. Malcolm is the founder and executive director of LeaderSource SGA, an international leader development ministry. He is also the founder and senior pastor of Living Faith Fellowship – a multicultural church in Indiana, USA. With a successful background in the business world, Malcolm holds his Ph.D. in the field of organizational leadership and works with Christian leaders in many nations. He has written over 30 books, the most popular of which is To Enjoy Him Forever, and his writings have been published in both scholarly and popular journals. His Leadership Letters are read by thousands of leaders around the world every month. Malcolm is deeply committed to the preeminence and centrality of Jesus Christ, the priesthood of every believer, healthy leadership and holistic leader development, and the global calling of the local church.


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