Have you ever had a leader who expressed a vision for you that was greater than your vision for yourself?  If you have, it probably had a profound impact on you, especially if they explained what they saw in you that inspired that vision. 

When a leader cares about us enough to have a vision for what we can accomplish, or who we can become, it offers a powerful testimony to their belief in us. It’s a unique source of encouragement, motivation and energy.  It’s an impressive example of a leader’s commitment to bringing out the best in the people they lead. 

When a leader tell us how they envision us once we’ve fulfilled our full potential, and if they tell us how they envision us getting there, they’re expressing their confidence in us in a way that can inspire us and motivate us at the deepest level – even to the point of being transformative. 

Those kinds of leaders are interested in our point of view.  They want to know how we feel about ourselves, and what our vision is for ourselves. If their vision for us is loftier than our own vision for ourselves, they explain why they believe we can accomplish their vision if we are willing to do what it takes, and they take the time to discuss what it takes.  

On the other hand, if our vision for ourselves is loftier than their vision for us, they become interested in our vision.  They tell us how they can help us achieve our goals, but they also explain what hurdles we might face, and what improvements, adjustments or sacrifices we might have to make. 

Either way is inspiring if it’s based on their commitment to help us become the best we can be.  Leaders cannot provide this kind of inspiration unless they sincerely believe in us, and then their belief becomes contagious.  It energizes, drives and empowers us to achieve things we may never have considered before.  These are the leaders we remember gratefully for the rest of our lives.

Every person who has ever lived is uniquely gifted.  One of our quests in life is to discover our gifts and then decide how to make the best use of them.  As leaders we’re curious about everyone’s unique gift.  If we show a genuine interest in the unique gifts of every person we lead, they respond to it.  They connect to it, and this is the connection through which we can encourage them at the deepest, most powerful and most permanent level.  This is positive influence in one of its richest forms, and it’s one of the sublime joys of leadership.

Take the time to imagine a vision for each of your people – at least those who report to you directly – and write out that vision in a way that prepares you to discuss it with them when the opportunity arises.  It’s one of the best investments of time you can make.