Vision cc RachelVoorees

This post is written as a companion to the Voice America Interview featuring Carla Morelli and Maureen Metcalf talking about staying current as a leader. In this interview, the participants discuss the Innovative Leadership framework and how leaders innovate or update their leadership mindset and abilities. This post was written by Maureen Metcalf talking about her practice of refreshing her leadership vision – a process she has written about in her award winning book series focusing on Innovative Leadership.

My vision and values serve as an important foundation for who I am and how I live my life. As the CEO of my company and also as a leadership faculty member, it is important for me to live what I teach. This is one of the core practices. I also revisit it regularly to ensure I am living what I say.

For those of you who resist this process, it is true that you will not spend an hour over the weekend and suddenly determine your life purpose, however, capturing your general direction is a great start and you can refine it over time.

A colleague and friend, Mike Sayre, CEO of NexDefense, talks about how he used his personal vision to select his current role. He has been a strong proponent of the importance of knowing and living your personal vision and sharing it with others so they know what to expect of you. You can listen to Mike talk about his vision as well as his company in a Voice America Interview.  He is a great example of a leader who follows his vision as the foundation for his choices.

The following exercise is drawn from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders.

Define Personal Vision

Follow the steps defined below:
•Step 1: Create a picture of your future. Imagine yourself at the end of your life. You are looking back and imagining what you have done and the results you have created.◦What is the thing you are proudest of?
◦Did you have a family?
◦What would your family say about you?
◦What did you accomplish professionally?
◦What would your friends say about you?

For the rest of this exercise, let that future person speak to you and help you set a path that will enable you to look back with pride and say things like, “I feel fulfilled and at peace. I lived my life well.”
•Step 2: Write a story. Now that you have that image of what you will accomplish, write a brief story about your successful life. Include details about the questions above. Make it a story of what you went through to accomplish each of the results for the questions you answered. What you are trying to create is a roadmap for your journey that gives you more insight into what you want if you had the option to design your perfect life.◦Who helped you along the way?
◦What did you enjoy about your daily life?
◦Who was closest to you?
◦What feelings did you have as you accomplished each milestone along the way?
◦How did you mentor others and contribute to the success of others?
◦What did you do to maintain your health?
◦What role did spirituality or religion play in your journey?
◦What job did you have?
◦What role did material success play in your life?
◦What type of person were you (kind, caring, driven, gracious)?

•Step 3: Describe your personal vision. Given the story you have written and the qualities you demonstrated as a person, write a two to five sentence life purpose statement—a statement that talks about your highest priorities in life and your inspirations. This statement should capture the essence of how you want to live your life and project yourself.

An example – I develop myself to my greatest capacity and help others develop and thrive in all aspects of their lives. I am wise, conscious, compassionate and courageous, and contribute to making the world a better place.
•Step 4:  Expand and clarify your vision. If you are like most people, the choices you wrote are a mixture of selfless and self-centered elements. People sometimes ask, “Is it all right to want to be covered in jewels, or to own a luxury car?” Part of the purpose of this exercise is to suspend your judgment about what is “worth” desiring, and to ask instead which aspect of these visions is closest to your deepest desire. To find out, ask yourself the following questions about each element before going on to the next one: If I could have it now, would I take it?

Some elements of your vision don’t make it past this question. Others pass the test conditionally: “Yes, I want it, but only if…”  Others pass, however are clarified in the process.

As you complete this exercise, refine your vision to reflect any changes you want to make.

After defining and clarifying your vision, it is time to consider your personal values. The combination of these two exercises will help you create the foundation of what you want to accomplish and the core principles that guide your actions as you work toward your vision.

For me, as the person who runs a company focusing on helping leaders innovate how they lead to create thriving organizations, my vision centers around first building myself as an exceptional leader then dedicating my professional energies to helping others build their leadership skills and concurrently transform their organizations into regenerating organizations that will thrive well into the future.

I believe we are living in a time of massive change in most spheres of our lives and this change creates opportunities for us to make a significant impact on the world through our efforts. Our efforts at developing and becoming more effective leaders increase the probability of creating positive change in the world for the next generation. This vision is something that inspires me and propels me forward on good days and bad. If I actually accomplish this goal and others are more effective because of my work, I will feel good about the hours of my life dedicated to work.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About Metcalf
Metcalf & Associates, Inc., is a leadership development and management consulting firm that uses an integrative approach to help leaders and their organizations innovate how they lead and how they operate, helping them thrive in a rapidly changing environment. CEO Maureen Metcalf is an acclaimed thought leader who has developed, tested and implemented emerging models that dramatically improve leaders and contribute to organizational success. Visit to find out more about Metcalf & Associates and all the workbooks in the series.

Photo credit: RachaelVoorhees