By Shawn Lovejoy
First, the bad news: no matter how clearly, consistently, or creatively we communicate the vision, some people just won’t get it. Sometimes they will not want to follow. Sometimes they will wander. They will have their own ideas—their own agendas. Sometimes they’ll even try to hijack the vision!
I don’t know how you were raised, but I was told never to pick up hitchhikers. That may sound mean, because after all, hitchhikers obviously need a ride. Why not stop to pick them up? Simply because, historically, hitchhikers have often become hijackers. They’ve knocked the driver in the head and seized the wheel of the car, and taken both car and driver somewhere against their will. The word hijack means “to seize by force or threat of force.”1
Hijacking happens in organizations every day. Slowly, either consciously or unconsciously, vision hitchhikers often become vision hijackers. If we don’t respond and seize the wheel, we’re going to end up miles away from our original destination.
What can we do to ward off potential vision hijackings?
1. Be Careful With New Leaders
Tenure does not guarantee leadership, but it does make it a safer bet. The old adage “hire slow and fire fast” applies most to leaders. We need to be slow in placing people into positions of power.
2. Confront Things and People Quickly
As leaders, we can never just stick our heads in the sand and hope vision issues will go away. They almost never do, without great harm. We can’t be cowards. We can’t be intimidated by big personalities, big givers, people with lots of influence, or long-tenured employees, citizens, or church members. We must confront vision drift quickly!
3. Provide a Place for Honesty
I have found that about 75 percent of the time, when I provide a safe place for a person to be honest about their struggles with the organization’s vision, they will take the opportunity. The person sitting across from me during that conversation will often open up and say: “Well, now that you mention it, there are some things I’m struggling with.” Here we go. Now we are about to get honest. I’m not going to be defensive. I’m going to listen. I’m going to be calm…but I am also going to be courageous. They’be been honest, not it’s my turn, but I will respond with both GRACE and TRUTH. We can have lots of opinions, but we are not waffling on the vision.
Without a vision, things and people perish! When we confront potential vision hijackings head on, we save lives and organizations. It’s as simple as that.
Shawn Lovejoy is the Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com a coaching ministry for leaders. He is the author of Be Mean About The Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters.