Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership expert committed to helping others lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently in the different spheres of influence God has granted them. Additionally, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health. She has also served on the executive leadership teams of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, CA and Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Jenni is the author of several books including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership. Outreach Magazine has recognized her as one of the 30 emerging influencers reshaping church leadership.
JW: How do you distinguish between healthy and unhealthy vision for your organization or whatever you are involved in?
JC: This is such a great question. It can be tempting to chase after an attractive ideal, goal or vision without pausing to take stock of whether it’s really a healthy initiative. Three critical things come to mind in regard to detecting whether your vision is healthy:
- Is the leader healthy? A healthy vision can only flow from a healthy leader. As John Maxwell has taught us, “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” Self-leadership is the starting point of leadership so if the leader is not healthy, it’s unlikely that the vision will be healthy.
- Is the vision stretching but doable? Visions should stretch you but they shouldn’t kill you or your team. If you are churning through staff in pursuit of a vision, it could be a symptom of an unhealthy vision.
- Does the vision reinforce your organizational values or does it violate your values? Revisit the core principles and values of the organization. If the vision is drifting from these standards, you need to reevaluate.
JW: How do you cast vision to people around you in a way that is compelling and creative?
JC: Casting vision is all about giving people the “why.” We all want to know why the vision matters and we need to be reminded often. Some creative ways to do this could include:
- Casting the vision by sharing why it’s important to you personally.
- Casting the vision by telling stories of others who have been impacted it.
- Casting the vision by having another staff person share why they are excited about the vision.
- Casting the vision by highlighting a staff person who lived out the vision in a specific way.
The important thing is that you as the leader are always on the lookout for ways that you can reinforce the vision in everyday interactions with your staff, and most importantly being purposeful to live out the vision yourself. Modeling the vision will speak much louder than any words you say.
JW: Casting vision and actually getting people behind your vision are two totally different things. After you have explained your vision to them, how do you get people behind it?
JC: People need clear next steps. A vision without a plan is just a pipe dream. When people see a clear plan and specific ways that they can be involved, they are going to be compelled to follow it (unless of course they just don’t believe in the vision, which is a different issue.) Communication becomes especially critical at this stage. As leaders, we can have a tendency to assume the next steps are obvious to everyone. But remember, you have been living with the vision longer than anyone else. What is obvious to you may not be as obvious to them. Slow down and communicate next steps with a spirit of collaboration, honesty and optimism.