“Vision is it received, developed or discovered?”

Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame said, “Vision is the essence of leadership.”

Vision, knowing where you want to go, requires three things: First, it must be clear and compelling. Second, you must articulate and model it well. Third, you must get your team excited about pursuing it with you, not for you.

Above all you must be consistent. No one can follow an uncertain or faint trumpet, no matter how passionate. You develop a clear vision using one of the following three approaches. You can impose it, buy it, or forge it through consensus.

First, imposing a vision can be either by demand or persuasion. Teledyne founder Henry Singleton believes an organization is built around a mind with an idea that’s aware of the key issues of his generation related to the mission.

Great leaders stay ahead of the curve and lead from the future, not to the future. They are educated visionaries sharpened by their image of the future. And, they guide their organization with confidence and humility.

Poor leaders impose their vision through demands, often disguised as motivation but in reality, is manipulation. Great leaders caste their vision until it becomes the common vision of the team through communication that’s vivid and compelling.

Second, buying a vision. Consultants will happily create a fashionable mission statement that creates a lot of energy but few sustainable results. The problem with these “off-the-rack” solutions is they are so generic, they’re worthless.

Visions can’t be sold like a McDonald’s burger or Starbucks latte. They can’t be a Burger King vision where everyone has it their way. Your team and stakeholders know immediately that you are trying to sell them a second-hand, cut and paste dream that they reject immediately.

Third, forging a vision happens through leadership consensus by encouraging broad contributions in putting flesh on the skeleton you provide. This produces a vision that is the most enduring and effective for long-term sustainable results.

At the end of the envisioning process, you want a vision that is not only compelling but energizes great buy-in by the core leaders and all the stakeholders. You don’t forge a vision overnight. It only comes through patience, perseverance, and passionate pursuit.

Can’t get your team to buy into the vision? How often do you show it to them?