inter-arise.com Enabling Effectiveness: Facilitating Collaboration and Capability

January 18, 2013

Shared Purpose and Vision in Empowering Teams To Thrive

Shared Purpose and Vision in Empowering Teams to Thrive

What makes one team higher performing than another? What is it that pulls individuals together into a cohesive team, enabling them to work together more effectively? Like all successful partnerships, key ingredients of an effective team include:

  • A shared purpose
  • A compelling image of a positive future – a shared vision
  • A common understanding of what action is required to stand in purpose and realise the vision
  • Understanding each others’ motivational preferences and complimentary styles

David Cooperrider, creator of the strength-based Appreciative Inquiry methodology, coined the term “Positive Image, Positive Action”.  When we have powerful, positive images of our possibility that are aligned individually and collectively, we are compelled to take action that moves us toward the experience of what we imagine.  This in essence is the power of a meaningful purpose and an inspiring vision.  Key attributes shared by all great leaders include the ability to fuel people’s drive through the possibility of an inspiring vision and the mechanisms that enable them to feel valuable.

Research into the use of graphics or imagery in creating/assigning meaning to information reveals that the process:

info visualisation PEEST

We know from neuro-sciences that every idea or thought that we have is a mental model.  Everything we do, create, choose, act on, first starts as an anticipatory mental image.  Think now about your car … your home…. a child or friend ….something of importance to you.  You get that an image is what you notice, right?   If our mental models are strong enough, they:

  • Guide our actions and behaviour
  • Influence our communication
  • Stimulate mental connections
  • Engage our physiology (horror movie…racing heart-beat….get the picture?)

Our brains filter information based on our mental models and what we are focusing on.   Visually representing the team’s strategy and referring to it often in communications, conversations and other business activities will strengthen the team’s association with and connection to its purpose, vision and objectives.  Most powerfully, it will  create a collective mental model within the team that generates focus, clarity and energy for the intended journey.

Most businesses have a purpose or mission statement, a vision, and a set of objectives for achieving the vision.   Rarely do they nurture mechanisms that enable teams to determine and develop the link between those statements and their own purpose and vision.  Mostly, the objectives are translated into targets which become the springboard from which operational activity takes place and is evaluated.

Focusing purely on driving targets can become meaningless, as can a company vision perceived as being imposed, and since we humans are meaning-making beings, this could translate into less than inspiring cultures and sub-optimal performance.

The most successful visions build on the individual and collective visions of  employees across the company.  Shared vision reflects shared purpose, and both are important for motivating people to learn and collaborate as they create a common identity that fuels focus, connectedness and energy. This strengthens the probability that team members will be more committed to outcomes, work together more effectively and share ownership for making things happen.

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Another important consideration in enabling a team to elevate its capacity to achieve its vision and to contribute organisation value, involves harnessing and aligning individual traits.  For example, the Disney strategy of Dreamer, Realist and Critic aligns glass half full and glass half empty people, as well as big picture and detail oriented people.  Aligning individual styles and motivational preferences will help to address the unconscious patterns in people that could lead to sabotaging behaviour.

The process of discovering a purpose and birthing a vision together, enables team members to internalise their connectedness and goals, and forms a platform for focused team activity.

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Article written by Vasintha Pather.  Thanks Dr Sally Vanson for your input and insights 🙂

Copyright Inter-Arise Facilitation Solutions (Pty) Ltd

The Visionary Teams Workshop:

 ‘Visionary Teams’ is an inspiring workshop for your team to co-create its vision and focus for the year ahead.  Using interactive and collaborative processes,  inter-arise facilitates a half-day workshop with your team to:

  • Engage around a shared purpose
  • Co-create a vision that is meaningful and inspiring
  • Identify the building blocks that will enable success
  • Align the differences in the team to maximize success

At the end of the workshop, we produce a visual representation of your team’s strategy that will serve as a powerful resource to strengthen connection with, and evaluation of, the strategy through the year.

e-mail vasintha@inter-arise.com or admin@inter-arise.com to enquire further and/or to set up a conversation

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