A principal recently told me that she and her superintendent were having a discussion on her vision for the school. She was talking about how to get her teachers to buy-in to the vision. That’s a term we leaders hear all the time, right? Buy-in. It makes so much sense. Once you get buy-in from your team, then they will follow you. However, her superintendent says that, to him, buy-in infers coercion, manipulation, having to talk someone into something. He much prefers the term ownership to buy-in. When there is ownership, it is the team, the employee’s choice. And this provides so much greater energy and momentum for success!

But how do you get ownership of your vision from your team?

Part of servant-leadership is always looking at your position from your team’s eyes and hearts. Here are seven characteristics that followers want to see in their leaders. Mastering these help you become a worthy leader worth following and propels your vision into one they are willing to own.

  • Purpose. We are drawn to people who believe whole-heartedly in their vision. It is compelling to see be around that energy, that excitement, that passion. It is infectious. They are bold with confidence and that is contagious!
  • Understanding. When you have the ability to see through the “noise” of a situation or a conversation and see the “true” issue, people respect that ability to see, know, and understand. Keen understanding of the issues is powerful. Your insight provides belief in your purpose and belief in your team.
  • Magnetism. John Maxwell says that, in a nutshell, the secret of charisma is that “people are attracted to leaders who make them feel good about themselves.” People with magnetism can help others understand how their role plays into the vision and the significance of their part in the vision. People like to feel part of something bigger than themselves. How have you honed your ability to show people how they are vital to your vision?
  • Ability. We are attracted to people with natural abilities. Think about how we are huge fans of athletes, actors, and techies like Steve Jobs. We love to watch someone playing strong in their talents and we want to be like them. You’ve heard the saying, “you play better when you play with someone who is better.” Don’t you feel like you step up your game when you’re playing with someone who is better than you? Talented leaders make us want to step up our game!
  • Production. We love working with people who can get things done. As a leader, to get the team to own your vision, show them how you intend to produce on the vision – what’s your plan to achieve the Dream? Start with those closest to you, get their belief in your vision and they cascade that belief throughout the team. Your ability to produce results on that vision cements their belief in you as a leader and your vision. You have to do more than talk a good game.
  • Communication. No matter how great your vision is, if you can’t communicate it in a way that allows people to see it and own it, it is just a dream. Practice telling the story that touches their emotions of what it will look like when they have achieved the dream. You must be absolutely clear on what your vision is and be able to communicate it in a way that people believe in you and your vision.
  • Character. This is the essence of everything I’ve talked to in this article. You must have the character to win people’s trust in you as a leader and in your vision. Are you a leader who walks her talk? Most leaders think that if they have a great cause then people will just jump on board. Simply put, that’s backward thinking! People follow worthy leaders they believe in, who promote worthy causes. Have you built your character so that people can believe and trust in you and want to follow you?

Ownership of a leader’s vision doesn’t happen in an instant. People don’t follow you just because you have a title and a vision. Before people are willing to take ownership of your vision, you have to go through the process of showing yourself as a worth leader with a worthy vision worth following. It’s a process – built on trust, influence and character.

Do you have a passion for something? Have you built a character of trust, integrity, and productivity? Do you believe in yourself and your vision? Can you easily communicate your vision in a way that gets others excited enough to own the vision as well? Step up, be bold, have the vision and find the people – for the people will find the leader and follow their vision.