Clarify your Vision with Questions

Guest Post by Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. and Julie Davis-Colan, M.S.

About 350 years ago, a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year, they established a town site. The next year, they elected a town government. The third year, the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year, the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build that road. Who needed to go there anyway?

These were people who had the vision to see 3,000 miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years, they were not able to see even five miles down the road. They had lost their pioneering spirit, or had they?

Had the town council articulated the benefits of the new road—access to the river and a better water supply—the people may well have approved the funds to build the road. Without clear vision, we rarely move beyond our current state. Yet with a clear vision of what we can become, no ocean of difficulty is too great.

That said, be cautious of charging forward too quickly because you might look back and not see your team behind you. As a visionary client once put it, “If you get too far out in front of your troops, you start looking like the enemy.” In the distance between you and your team, clarity about the future can turn hazy. Let’s discuss how you can bring your people along for the journey.

Fundamental Four Questions

A simple, proven way to clarify your vision and inspire action is to answer the following
Fundamental Four questions being asked by your team, whether you hear them or not:

1. What are we trying to achieve? (Goals)
2. How are we going to achieve it? (Plans)
3. How can I contribute? (Roles)
4. What’s in it for me? (Rewards—professional, social, emotional and financial)

The clarity of your answers is directly proportionate to the clarity of your vision. If you haven’t clearly communicated the answers to all four of these questions, or you assume your team knows the answers, your vision will be a blur. You will have a team going in different directions, unfocused, unclear, or worse, not even wanting to venture a few steps forward.

A clear vision helps teams see where they are going and understand how they can help get there. People naturally feel more accountable and motivated when they clearly understand that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Commit the time to clarify your vision by answering the Fundamental Four questions . . . and not just once. Maintain clarity by frequently and consistently answering these questions for yourself and for your team. It will inspire them to venture to new and exciting destinations with you.

An inspiring leader and our late friend Ron Rossetti liked to say, “Awesomeness is never accidental.” Our clients who clarify their vision for their teams are intentional about answering the Fundamental Four questions. They use the questions as a checklist to ensure that their messages address each question. The alignment and engagement in their organizations are notably greater than organizations where employees lack clarity, and their results are notably better.

Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. and Julie Davis-Colan, M.S.


Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. and Julie Davis-Colan, M.S. have been encouraging and equipping leaders
for healthy growth since 1999.  Lee is an organizational psychologist. Julie is a corporate health strategist.  In addition to advising CEOs, between the two of them they have authored 15 leadership books that have been translated into 10 languages. Learn more at


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