Enlist others in a common vision

By:Soraya Fallah
“Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations” (K&P 29), is one of the key Ten Commitments taught as part of the Five Practices. Although each of the Practices and Ten Commitments are important, I believe the one discussed in this section is considerable and needs to be paid close attention to. One person, no matter how strong of a leader, can only do so much alone, but a group can do much more together. “A thin tree stem is easily breakable but a thick trunk is not crushable,” my grandma used to say.  
K&P believe that exemplary leadership should “inspired a shared vision” (K&P 100) by including others and allowing them to share their values and visions. How much and by what means the leadership in an organization or institution can be effective in involving members of the body depends on several factors and cannot just be answered in one single formula. It is more complicated; however, when a member is personally valued and reached out to, she/he will be part of the journey, thus help move the vision of the entire organization forward.
Due to differences in people’s ideologies, backgrounds, and psycho-social aspects of each of their lives, it is often difficult to arrive at one conclusion and find a common vision, but if the leadership enlists others then as K&P says: “part of enlisting others is building common ground on which everyone can agree”(K&P 129).
 Based on my experience as the founder and board member of several organizations, I have come to personally see that the vision of an organization or institution is only a common “ideals”, or a “hope” and “dream” (K&P 130) thus most of the organizations I have worked with rely on missions and projects.
One such organization was a non-for-profit I helped create in 2006 and established legally in CA in 2009. World’s Women for Life, as it was called, was conceived as an educational organization for women to teach and promote the “culture of life” (as opposed to war and death) and it helped empower women to lead in their communities. It took a while for the leaders and interested members to come to one conclusion on what the organization’s vision should be. One such vision was: “To see the people of the world and their leaders do all they can, in good and difficult times, to save, protect, and improve life for all” (World’s Women for Life’s first vision statement 2009). This vision is of course grand and seems out of reach but the mission was to create multi-ethnic, non-sectarian, nonpartisan chapters of the organization in countries around the world in order to “protect life, improve life and celebrate life.” In 2010 we were able to come closer to our mission. Twelve women and men, multi-ethnic, from various countries around the world, from different age groups, came together and traveled to one of the most dangerous war zones on this planet: Iraq. We were there to develop a chapter of the organization and an educational curriculum that is sophisticated enough to be taught in universities but also simple enough to be thought in high schools and easily understood by school children. The chapter also aimed to train college youth to go into the public schools and teach/ mentor grade school and high school student about the “Culture of Life” values, and educate their community on the ill effects of honor killing.
During a one month stay in Northern Iraq-Kurdistan- many workshops were creates where members gave talks at different universities, churches, Mosques, offices, and schools. TV and Radio channels broadcast these workshops, which establishing a strong advocacy network to promote the organization’s mission. We were able to enlist others.
The leaders of the organization were able to “connect to what’s meaningful to others” (K&P 131) and helped others “take pride in being unique” (K&P 134). The group envisions a day when we can establish women departments in universities, create jobs and more comprehensive student curriculum that can help combat violence against women and study human trafficking.
This experience was very collaborative. I was really able to see the ways enlisting others helped bring the organization closer to creating meaningful change in the communities we visited. 
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This short article was written based on Ch 5 – Kouzes and Posner :in order for an organization’s vision to be successfully pursued, it must appeal to, and be shared by, all those in the organization. They present eleven questions that can be used as catalysts in clarifying a personal vision (p. 126), one of which is “What does my ideal organization look like? 


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