Inspiring a Shared Vision is one of my weakest points in the 5 exemplary practices of leadership in Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Practices Inventory model of leadership. It is a practice I found myself challenged by multiple times throughout the journey to put a farmers market on campus.
I found it difficult to not only share, but evoke in others the same passion for my vision as I held. I found this especially difficult during interviews from newspaper journalists and advertising.
Advertising for the market was one of the most important actions we could have taken to ensure its success. Getting the market itself up was quite a feat, but who cares if there’s success in that if there are no customers to take care of the vendors. Advertising meant informing the people of an opportunity we worked hard to make available to them, while simultaneously inspiring them to take advantage of said opportunity because they can see your passion for it and consequently feel a passion of their own for it too. This type of advertisement could be achieved through word of mouth, which is an upstanding form of advertisement that, in my opinion, has never received enough credit for its ability to draw in clientele.
Some word of mouth advertising was done throughout campus, but when you’re dealing with an audience as large as a university and the surrounding town the majority of advertising has to be in the form of flyers and social media. I found it extremely hard to convey my vision in an inspiring fashion through paper flyers and social media posts. I have never worked too hard to ensure that informing people of passions I’m involved with included inspiring them to see why I’m passionate about it and why they should be too. I always felt that was badgering them and that if they had the passion for it too they would seek me out or become involved on their own.
The market’s heavy dependence on inspired attendance really drove me to work harder at perfecting my ability to prioritize communication with others throughout the entire process. I never realized how important it is to involve everyone, including people who are not directly invested in the project, in the process from the start. Share goals not just successes, share your plans not just the outcomes, share your excitement for the prospects of the future with them not just inviting them to the celebration ceremony at the end.
I can’t believe I didn’t understand this before, I know I will be a much more connected leader now. I can feel more at ease knowing that it’s not hard to advertise to people you want invested in your cause if you make them part of the cause from the beginning.