microphone on a stage in front of a crowded audience
PHOTO: Joao Cruz

Digital transformation initiatives start with a compelling idea, but their success is determined by how the vision is received by the organization.

Digital transformation touches every area of business and requires teams to collaborate like never before. Because of this, it is crucial to establish a compelling vision to drive a successful digital transformation initiative.  

To rally people to follow you, you must be able to articulate and communicate your vision in a simple, clear, bold and compelling way. By implementing a thoughtful approach to personal leadership, leaders can build and foster a compelling vision around digital transformation initiatives, inspiring an environment where teams embrace change and look towards the future.

1. Build a Big Vision

One of the hallmarks of great leaders is that their vision includes big ideas. Big ideas get people excited, and organizational leaders use this as motivation by inviting employees to be a part of something special.

Most of us are familiar with President John F. Kennedy’s vision for the space program: “We choose to go to the moon … not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” A story about JFK visiting NASA clearly illustrates the desire of people to be part of something that’s bigger than they are.

If you haven’t heard it, it goes like this: JFK was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time. While he was there, he introduced himself to a janitor and asked him what he did. The janitor answered, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

Nobody wants to do something small. Leaders want people to feel motivated about coming to work because what they do matters. So while you’re building a big vision, don’t forget to create excitement by reminding employees that their work is changing the future.

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2. Tell Your Story

One way to share your vision is through stories. As humans, we love stories. It’s why we’re all waiting for the final season of Game of Thrones and why we have such passionate feelings about what movie should win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Leaders understand the importance of a compelling story. It’s the fastest way to connect with your audience and get people aligned with your vision. When people think of great stories, they often think about TED Talks. TED Talks take the listener on a journey. The speakers are engaging, interesting and compelling — all things that motivate listeners to take action. But perhaps the most notable thing about TED speakers is they are not afraid to show their human side.

Take note from TED speakers:

  • Take your listeners on a journey by making sure your story has a beginning, middle and end — as well as a positive resolution.
  • Share your vision through storytelling while relaying both wins and losses along the way.
  • Provide a piece of wisdom or advice that helped you overcome obstacles and try to make it a memorable phrase. If this isn’t your skill set, try working with your marketing leaders.

The most important thing about storytelling is to try it! Storytelling helps you forge a deeper connection with your audience while making you more relatable.

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3. Share Your Vision

Another way to transform visions into results is to have a conversation with the people you lead. Don’t try to sell your ideas. Talk about what honestly excites you about the idea, share the vision and ask each person to identify what it means to them. For the vision to come to life, it must have meaning for each individual.

After the people on your team identify what the vision means to them, ask them what their personal vision is and how it can help contribute to the bigger vision of the organization. Then ask your team members how you can help them on their journey. What do they need from you to be their best? Finally, ask them how they would like you to hold them accountable.

If you have an open and honest conversation like this with each person you lead, and continue to discuss their personal and organizational vision, you’ll see the vision come to life.

The most important thing to remember is that if you truly want a shared vision, others must feel like they were able to help shape it. By letting go of your need to own the vision, you’ll welcome feedback from your team that will make the idea stronger.

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4. Encourage Commitment to Your Vision

Part of your job as a leader is to generate commitment to your vision for digital transformation. To do this, you have to communicate the vision in a way that matters to people. Leaders need to get the word out about the organization’s vision in multiple ways, and keep the message going. So how do you get your organization’s vision out there? Try these tips:

  • Perfect your elevator speech. Be prepared to talk about your vision at any point. Preparing clear and concise talking points will let you share your vision at any point throughout the day.  
  • Use multiple forms of media. The more channels of communication you use, the better the chance of your organization understanding the vision. If you aren’t sure what’s best, partner with your marketing leaders to get their ideas on techniques from social media to tangibles like coffee mugs.
  • Have one-on-one conversations. Engage others. Personal connections give leaders opportunities to transmit information, receive feedback, build support and create energy.

Digital transformation and leadership are both about seeing and creating a brighter and better future. Be excited — and proud — to communicate your vision. By doing so, you are letting others know what a promising future you and your organization have.