Like many leaders I want to lead a world-class team. But I don't think you can without a core commitment to managing dreams. We talk a lot about managing people and we get specific by talking about their talents, personalities, resources, motivations and strengths. But what about their dreams? Are you as a leader so wrapped up in your own vision, that you don't take the time to really see how the dreams of your top leaders, dovetail and intertwine with the organization?

Why is this important to me? Years ago I realized that my greatest convictions as a leader were formed not through postive modeling, but by the weaknesses of the leaders above me. Before starting my own ministry, I had served on many teams led by strong and effective leaders. But none of them demonstrated willingness or skillfulness in attending to my personal aspirations. Conviction created: I don't want to be a dream-dumb leader.

Here is what I have learned thus far on my own journey toward managing dreams.

#1 Clarify your own dreams. You can't have a meaningful conversation about the dreams of others without your own dreams clarified. In fact, so few people have ever really clarified their dreams, they will probably need you to model it as the first step of helping them access it.

#2 Connect your personal dreams to the organization's vision. It's very important that people see how organizations are vehicles to realize their personal dreams. Too many times, the agenda of the organization is something totally different from what your people daydream about. For some, "org-speak" even becomes a necessary evil. You'll never hear it, but it is there and lives for years, totally disguised. You must manage the gap, and it starts by modeling it again yourself.

#3 Warning: If you can't separate out your personal dreams from the vision of the organization you are leading, you may be too captive to the organization. I have been there myself and had to discover what I call a "healthy detachment."

#4  Operate with a dangerous promise. I lead with the promise that if the vision I am leading toward is not in line with the dreams of my team, I will help them find a better fit in another organization. In the last 6 years at Auxano, I have helped two on my leadership team find more fulfilling roles. There is an important belief behind this promise for me. I believe that God is always going to provide for the dream-vision alignment, so if that alignment is no longer there, I WANT to help those people off the bus.

#5 Cultivate, cultivate, cultivate the conversation. My biggest disappointments in managing dreams come from assuming that its easy to have the conversation for my team members. The truth is, it is extremely difficult to foster this type of dialogue. It requires relationship, connection, authenticity, transparency, trust, etc. If there is fear, then game over. Hence back to imperative #4 above. Just remember you can't just "have" the dream conversation, you must farm the conversation; plant seeds, provide water and tend to it.

#6 Start with satisfaction. Yesterday one of our teams met to talk about our direction and our next vision milestone. I started the time by asking each team member to describe which Auxano project, initiative or event gave has given them deepest sense of satisfaction. It was the best team time all year! This exercise does not automatically reveal dreams, but it creates a climate and provides clues for the ongoing journey of dream management.

#7 Be flexible and experiment. In the end people dreams cannot be realized if there is no organizational flex and flow. Only you can provide this. Also, you may need to operate with some tentative thoughts or aspirational probes. Don't be afraid to tweak roles and responsibilities for a season. The best visionary organizations I have worked with are always willing to adapt leadership structure and key responsibility areas.

#8 Don't let failures slow you down. Even in writing this post, I am more aware of my insufficiencies as a dream manager than anything else. But I keep pressing on.
Topics: Date: Feb 10, 2010 Tags: dream management / synergy / team / Vision