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How To Create An Effective Leadership Vision In 4 Steps


A vision that is not acted upon is just groundless fantasy. As a leader, how do you create a leadership vision that your followers and staff can understand and fully engage in? This article is a blueprint for more effective, successful, and truly inspiring leadership.

Hey, Jay here from The Coaching Room, thanks for checking out this article.

By the end of this article, you will have a clearer idea of how you and others can actualise your intentions. By actively studying and putting this Developmental Action Inquiry (DAI) model into practice, you are also steadily developing your Leadership traits.

The DAI model showcased here comes from Bill Tolbert, a writer, Philosopher and Professor from Yale, Boston and Harvard Universities.


“Most developmental psychologists agree that what differentiates one leader from another is not so much philosophy of leadership, personality, or style of management. Rather, it’s internal “action logic”–how a leader interprets the surroundings and reacts when his or her power or safety is challenged”.

Bill Tolbert

 This Developmental Action Inquiry model consists of four key dimensions:

  1. Intention
  2. Strategy
  3. Actions
  4. Evaluation

Let’s start from the top. 

  1. INTENTION (Intentionality)

A vison must begin with an intent – what do you intend to work towards? Energy flows where attention goes, as guided by your intent.

Some useful questions to ask here are:

  • What leadership intentions do you have?
  • What’s your why? And why is that important to you, to others, to your organisation?
  • How is this intention connected to your personal purpose as a leader?
  • What will this intention mean for others who will engaging in actualising it?

Begin by letting go of what you don’t want.

  1. STRATEGY (strategic planning)

This immensely massive, yet subtle step.

How will you ensure that you will enact your intent? What’s your plan for how you will actualize your vision?

Before you can act, you need to have a big picture plan, with steps and stages to direct your and others actions.

For tips on how to plan using Ken Wilber’s quadrants see my previous article 15 Tips to engaging your followers. This article will enable you to look at what you want from a 4 quadrant perspective.

Note: Strategy is not about actions and behaviors. Strategy is about how you will ensure those behaviours will actualise your intent.


This is the enactment phase of your vision. A vision is a fantasy without grounded, measureable, specifically-targeted actions.

Your actions need to enact your strategy and your intent.

Given your intent, your strategy and plan and, what do you need to do specifically to actualise it?


This is the final, and equally important step. It is the step of evaluating how and whether each step is aligned with the others. Here are 4 questions you should be asking at this stage:

  • How will you know that what you’re doing, based on what you have planned is getting you what you intend?
  • Is the strategy in alignment with the intention? How do you know?
  • Are the actions in line with strategy? How do you know?
  • Are the actions in line with intent? How do you know?

Bringing it all together – Bruce Lee’s inevitable punch.

Martial arts expert and Hollywood movie actor Bruce Lee was never beaten in any challenge he ever faced. He had what he called “the inevitable punch”.

Bruce started with an intent – in this case, to knock out his opponent.

He would then start working out his opponent’s strategy, and identify the flaws in it.

Bruce would then begin to test the flaws (actions) and evaluate the best time to strike, based on his strategy and intent.

Thanks to this approach, his opponents repeatedly found themselves floored.


  • Start with your “why?” (intent)
  • Identify the how (strategy)
  • Sort out what you and others will actually need to do (actions)
  • Understand how you will know (evaluate)



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