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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE speaker gives strategies for shared goals

By Brandy Voirin/reporter

NE students learned the value of establishing shared goals during a student leadership session Nov. 6.

In How to Articulate a Vision, English assistant professor Shewanda Riley introduced the steps involved in effectively creating a vision: organization purpose, individual purpose and team purpose.

“Most students of leadership agree that the ability to create and articulate a vision and, thus, inspire and focus followers is the sine qua non of effective leadership,” she said.

Illustrating the importance of a shared vision, Riley asked students how they felt when involved in a team project when the entire vision wasn’t shared with the entire team.

“I felt helpless,” said student Patty Carlon.

Such feelings are common.

“It’s important when you are a part of a team that you understand the vision, state the vision clearly and walk it out,” Riley said.

Riley then divided students into six-member teams. Planners stayed in the room while others were asked to leave.

“You get to decide how you strategize your vision and when you bring your outside team members into the fold,” Riley said. “But don’t waste time.”

The activity examined the dynamics involved in planning a task to be finished by others while examining the helping and hindering communication behaviors of others. At the end of the experiment, no teams correctly completed the project.

Riley reminded everyone that three types of people are involved in a vision.

“You have the person who has a vision in mind but doesn’t articulate it quickly or clearly enough to other people,” she said.

“You also have the person who hears the vision but then messes it up. And finally, the person who observes the vision but can’t get involved because it’s not their vision.”

So much can get lost in translation, and a lot of the vision gets lost in the planning process as well, Riley said.

“Just because you know what the vision is doesn’t mean your team understands it,” she said. “In the real world, we are faced with deadlines every day. And while we want everything to be perfect, you can actually miss critical key factors in aligning our vision with our team who will carry out the vision.”

Although people carried out the vision, what actually separated leadership from management was their ability to articulate a vision, Riley said.

“It’s not just enough to have a great vision,” she said. “You have to be patient enough to see it through.”

The challenge was harder than most students anticipated.

“Although I knew precisely what the goal was, trying to relate it to my team who couldn’t see the diagram was hard,” said student Randy Mappus. “And even worse was watching them do the opposite of what I instructed them to do and not being able to say a word.”

Other students nodded in agreement,

“I recently left my job and had to train someone for my old job who was deaf. And trying to convey the message of where to vacuum and when to vacuum was a challenge,” he said. “Luckily, I knew sign language, so finding a pattern of familiarity in the vision was really important yet still hard.”

Riley told the students they would often be asked to immediately implement visions with little time for planning.

“To be an effective leader, you must first clearly share the vision with your team while stepping back and allowing them to find their own way,” she said.

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