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From a business perspective, not all goals are quite so obvious—or so clear-cut in attainability. But whether you're talking about players in uniform or team members at the office, one thing is certain: Vision determines the direction of the team.


As a referee in the National Football League for 31 years, Jim Tunney had many opportunities to witness great teams in action. He officiated at no less than 29 postseason games (an NFL record), including 10 Championships and three Super Bowls.

Now a respected motivational speaker, Tunney uses what he observed on the football field to help organizations and corporations build winning teams. For example, he believes that clearly defined goals are a key component to team success—both on and off the field.

"If employees don't understand their company's goals and its game plan, these goals won't be achieved," he says. "Football doesn't make this mistake. Its goals are always clearly defined. At the end of the field is a goal line. Why do we call it a goal line? Because 11 people on the offensive team huddle for a single purpose—to move the ball across it."

From a business perspective, not all goals are quite so obvious—or so clear-cut in attainability. But whether you're talking about players in uniform or team members at the office, one thing is certain: Vision determines the direction of the team.

When it comes to casting a compelling vision, I believe that there are two critical elements: emotional and logical transference. This is where many leaders go wrong. Some are great at explaining their vision logically, but they lack the emotion necessary to carry it forward. Others are very emotional when casting a vision, but they lack the logic to sustain it.

If you want to cast a vision that will send your team in the right direction for the long haul, you must do it with logic and emotion. It's not an either/or situation. You must have both.

To transfer a vision emotionally, five elements are needed:

  1. Credibility. This is the most important ingredient for successful emotional transference. The person casting the vision absolutely must have integrity. His team must know—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that he walks the walk and talks the talk.

  2. Passion. It's very difficult to pass a vision on to someone else if you don't believe in it yourself. Half-hearted vision-casting simply doesn't work.

  3. Relationships. The closer a leader is to the members of her team, the quicker they'll buy in to her vision.

  4. Timing. There's a right time and a wrong time to cast a vision. A good vision presented at the wrong time will fail.

  5. Felt need. It's hard for people to catch a vision when they don't feel the goal is necessary.
On the other hand, to transfer a vision logically, these seven components are necessary:
  1. A realistic understanding of the situation today. If you're not realistic about where you are today, people will know that you don't have a clue about tomorrow. Leaders often make the mistake of trying to cast a vision for the future because they're struggling now. In other words, they use the vision to cover up their existing problems.

    But when you cast a vision, your people must know that you understand your current situation. Otherwise, they'll simply roll their eyes and think, "If he isn't realistic about where we are right now, how can he ever be realistic about where we want to go?"

  2. An experienced team. It's tough to keep a vision alive without seasoned players who comprehend why it's important to the success of your organization.

  3. A sound strategy. The step-by-step process of how you're going to achieve your vision must be well-reasoned and watertight; otherwise it will fall apart.

  4. Acceptance of responsibility by the leaders. The success of a vision nearly always is based upon the buy-in of the leaders who are willing to sign their names to the bottom-line number, whatever it is. Don't even attempt to cast a vision until your leaders are ready to put their names by the bottom line.

  5. The celebration and communication of each victory. Such recognition provides an infusion of enthusiasm and gives your people something concrete to hold on to as they continue to move toward the ultimate goal of fulfilling the vision.

  6. Evaluation and communication for each defeat. Be as open about explaining the defeats as you are about celebrating the victories. After each setback, tell your team, "Here's what we did wrong; here's why we did not accomplish what we needed to."

  7. Time. This is interesting, isn't it? To emotionally transfer a vision, you need proper timing. To logically transfer it, you just need time.
What happens when emotion joins logic in the transference of a vision? People unite around the goal and start working to achieve it because they believe in what they're doing and they understand why they're doing it.

That's how teams win—both on and off the field.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's
free monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired
available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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