Maybe it’s worth it to decide for oneself that a vision can never be realistic. This is not to say that it cannot become reality. It is to remind oneself, that a vision is something one has imagined as possible. It gives the team an idea of where the team is going.
If a clear plan can be designed in such a way that it is clear how the vision can be implemented, then there is a high probability that a better denomination would be to call it a SMART goal. The plan the team is receiving is a description of how to get there.
The challenge with a vision is that neither the team nor the leader know well how to get there. The leader’s task is to create a sense of freedom and autonomy within the team. It’s there to help people in the team feel free to innovate, take calculated risks, and experiment. But the team also needs to feel able to impact the vision based on their learning. They need to be able to share their learning and use it to find ways to revise the plans and ideas underlying the vision.
Once the team is at work, the leader needs to find ways to stay available to the team. Leaders must learn from the way the team moves forward and seeks to implement the vision. It means finding a way to integrate the results and gained evidence into the vision. Either to adapt the vision or to help the team see how to find a better way to align with the existing vision.
That is where it becomes so relevant to accept that a vision is not realistic by itself. A leader who shares a vision may not have that much evidence that the opportunity they see is real and can be implemented. This lack of evidence is normal. Such a lack of evidence is just as true for a visionary leader as for a delusional leader.
What differentiates an effective leader is his ability to remain available to the team and to learn how to get there together with his team. It doesn’t mean that the leader will always accept the evidence or results as delivered by the team. Nor does it mean that the team will always know exactly what to do.
It is a question of how effective the process then becomes and how the leader and the team cooperate in it.
Is feedback listened to?
Is the produced evidence used to revise ideas and plans?
Is the work needed to achieve the vision acknowledged?
These questions are relevant for the leader as well as the team members. But it then is the leader’s task to react to the needs emerging in the process, whereas the team will be there to do the work required by the process they engaged in.