1. Help him/her develop the vision. If you are aware enough to realize that you/team are vision-starved, and confused on the direction of the organization, being a visionary might just be a strength of yours. You can utilize your strengths and help everyone involved, by “trickling vision up.” This starts with taking the time to sculpt a vision for the group as if you were in charge.

Once that is clear in your mind, assure that you keep to regular monthly/weekly 1-to-1’s with your supervisor. During a portion of this time, humbly offer one suggestion each meeting to him/her from the vision you believe would help steer the team on accomplishing the mission. Ask what he/she thinks, to gauge the response, and if positively received, ask how together it might be implemented. The goal here is that your leader will own the vision to the point it becomes his/her idea. You are doing your best to make them look good so that it’s a win-win for all.

2. Craft/cast/carry your own vision with your team/department. If your boss is Teflon to vision discussions, you still can make a difference right where you are–without usurping his/her authority. Understand what you can control and focus on that—instead of the frustration of lack of clarity from above you. It’s like you are running your own little company, using the best leadership principles you’ve learned, but always making sure you are ultimately aligned with your boss’s/the organization’s main direction–as best as you can see it.

Show confidence to your people by making decisions within your purview, removing obstacles, and giving the team as much security as you can–without bashing your leadership for not truly leading.

3. Leave. There may come a time when you simply cannot handle yet another year of operating without a clear, compelling vision from your boss. You know it when it begins to suck the life out of you. Your ideas fall on deaf ears, you get blamed for their incompetence, you tire of apologizing on their behalf, and you realize that plugging holes in the dam is not the way you want to live your work life anymore.

I have left jobs whenever I realize I cannot impact/influence the “power structure” of the organization from where I’ve sat on the organizational chart. In order to avoid “learned helplessness” or portraying an unsupportive attitude to my people, and after sharing my need for vision to my leader several times with no results, I have resigned and set my sights on another position with a clear vision that I can rally behind.

You DO have choices, even in situations without direction. But you know that you cannot stay aimless for too long without it affecting you negatively. Step up or step out. Make the best of your situation, or find a place where you can.

Need a confidential, objective someone to bounce off the processing of your decision? Shoot me an email at growingforward@paulcasey.org

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