The Law of the Compass

Vision Gives Team Members Direction and Confidence

Have you ever been on a team, in Minneapolis or otherwise, that never seemed to advance? Perhaps the crew had enough ability, supplies and chances, and the teammates worked well together, but the team just didn’t make any forward movement. If you have been, there’s a stark likelihood that the condition was brought about by an absence of vision (something that can be rectified by business coaching and training).


Remarkable vision comes before remarkable accomplishment. Every team requires a captivating vision to give it guidance. At worst, a team lacking vision is aimless. At best, it is open to the private (and, at times, self-interested) plans of its assorted team members. As the plans work in opposition to each other, the team’s vitality and ambition are depleted. At the other end of the spectrum, a team that adopts a vision develops concentration, power and conviction. It understands where it is going and why it is going there.

I was very moved as a child by my grandfather's affirming example as a pastor. He motivated our community to share his commitment to economic justice. He gave the people in our community reasons to take progress-initiating economic and social risks. To affect people positively, as he did, requires an exceptional ability to impart vision. A leader needs to be able to show the team what they are reaching for. Then the team grasps for the constructive.

The Leader’s Obligation 

My grandfather was skilled at explaining to our community members how their individual actions could support a vision. That competence created success for him and them. He knew that a leader has to transmit their vision. Says nonprofit leader, Leila Janah, “True leadership isn't about having an idea. It's about having an idea and recruiting other people to execute on this vision.”

If you lead your team members, then it is your obligation to pinpoint a worthwhile and persuasive vision and convey it to them. Nevertheless, even if you aren’t the leader, recognizing a persuasive vision is still vital. If you understand the team’s vision, you can execute with confidence. You can be certain your teammates and you are on course. And you can be sure the team you are with is the best one for you if you analyze the vision in relationship to your assets, principles and intentions. For each member of the team, the vision needs to be persuasive.


Look at Your Compass

How do you assess a vision? How do you know whether it is worthwhile and persuasive? You look at your compass. Each team needs one. Truthfully, each team needs a few compasses. A group should analyze the following six “compasses” before starting any expedition.


The vision of a team should be lined up with:

1.     A Moral Compass

American business figure Frank Perdue said, "If you believe in unlimited quality and act in all your business dealings with total integrity, the rest will take care of itself." That’s true in any circumstance. There may be many ways to do something right, but it’s important to do that something one of those ways. Your compass needle needs to be pointing one of those ways for your team to be going in an appropriate direction.

A moral compass gives integrity to the vision. It supports all team members examining their intentions and being certain they are toiling for the correct motives. In addition, it gives authority to the leader who presents the vision – but the leader must be an example of the morals that the team is supposed to adopt. When they are, they give energy to the vision.


2.     An Intuitive Compass

Where integrity gives energy to the vision, enthusiasm gives intensity. And the intensity of enthusiasm and certainty comes only from within a person.

A vision must vibrate intensely within a team leader. Then it must vibrate intensely within the team members, who are invited to labor to make it come true. The significance of intuitive enthusiasm is that it gives the dedicated the energy to do what it takes to succeed.


3.     A Historical Compass

A persuasive vision should not devalue the past, it should utilize it. It should build on what’s been supplied by earlier teams in the business. To that end, whenever you construct a vision, take into consideration what 19th century politician Adlai E. Stevenson I said, "We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.”

What you must do is take what an organization has done in the past and allow the present vision to flow from it. This appeases the people who have been in the organization a long time and also gives the newer people a feeling of assurance.

The best way to do this is to tell stories. People remember stories, whereas they tend not to remember doctrines. Stories give relationship to the vision. Telling stories from the past brings an appreciation for history and from that a sense of pride. Telling rousing stories from the present also brings a sense of pride. Telling stories of the future, when the vision will be filled, brings a sense of hope. A vision told with stories is a vision that people will remember.


4.     A Directional Compass


Business futurist and author Joel A. Barker mused, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Vision brings focus to the team. Some of that focus is given by an awareness of the objective. And some of that focus is from having goals, which bring a practical aspect to the vision. Goals motivate the team.


5.     A Strategic Compass

A goal does the team good only when it has action steps to undertake it. Vision needs strategy to become more than a dream. "Vision without execution is hallucination,” said Thomas Edison.

The importance of a strategy is that it gives a procedure to the vision. It finds supplies and rallies the team members. The group needs more than data and encouragement. They require directives on what to do to pull the vision into existence. A strategy gives that.


6.     A Visionary Compass

A team’s vision must go past the present situation and the apparent limitations of present teammates to perceive the team’s promise. A superior vision communicates what the people can develop into if they abide by their most uplifting values and labor in keeping with their benchmarks.

As a leader you are tasked to challenge your people to help them reach their potential. You are probably aware that it’s easy for team members to just show up for work. It’s something else for all of them to come to work ready to give their maximum effort. A wide-ranging vision draws the best out of everyone. 

Many people need a challenge to stay engaged. "If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea," observed Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer and poet. A vision like that motivates. Motivation can be particularly essential for exceedingly skilled people. At times, they struggle with a deficiency in desire. A visionary compass boosts them up.

"The future belongs to people who see possibilities before they become obvious,” said Ted Levitt, an American economist. That confirms the significance of vision. But it also confirms our tenuous grasp on vision. So, use these six “compasses” to assess your team’s vision. If you see that all six are pointing in right directions, then your team has a great occasion for victory. Vision gives individuals direction and confidence, two things that mold individuals into a team. That is the crucial character of the Law of the Compass.



Be a Better Team Member 

Can you describe the vision of your team? As a team member, you should have a strong understanding of its vision. If the team lacks a worthy and persuasive vision, then assist the team in creating one. If the team has discovered its path, then you should consider yourself in relationship to it to be certain you and it are compatible. If you are, forge ahead. But if you are not, your teammates and you will be discouraged. All concerned will most likely be better off with a change.


Be a Better Team Leader

If you are your team’s leader, you have the obligation to convey the team’s vision and present it before the team members continuously. That can be a challenge. John Maxwell, author, speaker and pastor, has a checklist he uses when creating a vision for his team. He makes certain every vision contains:


·      Clarity: gives comprehension to the vision (answers the people’s questions and explains what they should do)

·      Connectedness: links the past, present and future

·      Purpose: gives an objective to the vision

·      Targets: give goals to the vision

·      Honesty: gives honor to the vision and believability to the vision creator

·      Stories: give relationships to the vision

·      Challenge: brings self-improvement to the vision

·      Passion: gives intensity to the vision

·      Modeling: gives responsibility to the vision

·      Strategy: gives method to the vision


The next time you want to convey vision to your team members, use this checklist. Be sure to incorporate each part of the list, so that your team will understand the vision more readily and will more easily make it theirs. In that way you’ll see them gain improved direction and confidence.



The ideas in this blog post are taken from John Maxwell’s book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork.


Stephen Crawford