How To Handle A Lack Of Vision From Your Boss

August 14, 2013 — 8 Comments


We’ve all been there before…your boss just doesn’t like to talk like that.  “Vision?  My vision is for you to get back to work!”.  Not exactly inspiring, right?  Well, there is a vision there, even if he or she doesn’t want to admit it.  Here’s how to get it out of them…

First, let’s start by admitting that the word “vision” is one of those over-used, over-hyped terms that has a certain amount of “cheese” to it, unfortunately.  It’s still vital to success, but buyer beware; asking your boss for his or her vision can lead to rolling eyes.  I’ve seen it happen!

With that in mind, it may be easier to describe what you are looking for in different terms:  The future.  The path to profits.  The direction.  The way to win.  The secret sauce for success.  Whatever get’s the conversation going.

Just keep in mind that your bosses vision is creeping around inside his or her head even if they aren’t good at saying it.  It’s your mission to bring it out of them!

Want to improve your team?
Sign up now to receive my free ebook: "ENGAGE YOUR TEAM - 5 Steps To Epic Results."
We hate spam just as much as you

So stop complaining that your boss sucks at giving direction, can’t lead their way out of a paper bag, and has the leadership skills of a turtle.  You didn’t say that?  Oh, good!

Getting Inside Their Head

Whatever you do, if you find yourself in a foggy vision situation and intend on approaching your boss for some big picture direction, here are some things to consider:

  • Don’t just pop into your bosses office and expect something great.  They are human.  Setup a meeting.  Let them know ahead of time that you would like to talk about the future of the company.  They should appreciate that you are thinking like that!  
  • Ask your boss specific questions.  Example: Where do you see this team going in the next year?  Next five years?  How can we develop this team to be more efficient?  How can we better serve our customers?  How can I better serve?
  • Ask your boss what info you can share from your meeting with the team?  Ask if he or she can have a meeting to discuss it with them?
  • Create your own vision.  How would you answer the questions above?  What is your vision of the future?  Don’t limit yourself.  Think big.  Be bold.  Share it and be ready for resistance, but also be flexible in changing it.
  • If you don’t agree with your bosses vision, try not to argue.  Be glad he shared it for now.  Work to change it later.
  • Write it all down.  Don’t put it on a paper somewhere and hide it.  Don’t jamb it in your Evernote and forget about it either.  Write it down and post it somewhere visible.  Re-visit it often!  Ask your boss to re-visit it with you from time to time.

The bottom line here is that your vision of the future (work, home, etc) matters.  It’s vital to how you make decisions.  We all have a vision, it’s just not always well thought out.  It’s also not always aligned with those around us.  So, take the time to figure this out as soon as you can and keep working on it!

Question: Do you know your bosses vision?  Does your boss know your vision?



  • Let’s Grow Leaders

    I love this post because it encourages action and accountability. Don’t be frustrated or a blamer. Do something. Lead from where you are.

    • Thanks Karin! That’s kind of my mantra, so I really appreciate that!

  • This is great Bob. Great action steps from the team member point of view that helps them lead up. Love it!

  • Great message Bob. Right now, I don’t think I know my boss’s vision, other than to save our company money. And as for our owner, his vision seems to always be changing.

    To be honest, this has caused quite the frustration. Not knowing or thinking you know only to have it change can be a major problem.

    • Wow, I totally know where you are coming from!!! Working in that environment can really take the wind out of your sails!

      If I may, I would like to suggest something to you? When I was in that situation, it helped me to take the bull by the horns. I felt like it was my duty to help guide my bosses. They simply didn’t see what I saw. It was a slow burn, but I promise you that it is possible to influence them to go in a different direction!

      Just keep your expectations low so that you can feel like you had a hand in whatever progress you see.

      I started by giving away signed copies of books. I’ve said that before, but it was so critical. I never sought attention for it; I just snuck it into their office or sent it in the mail.

      Another thing I did is emailed links to youtube videos and articles from sites like Harvard Business Review, Entreleadership, etc. Not all the time, just often enough to not be annoying. Just make sure they are very applicable.

      Of course, influencing others on your team can also make a huge difference. If your bosses see you pouring energy into your team, they may think twice about how they are treating them.

      Feel free to email me if you’d like to talk off line. I hate hearing about situations like this!!!

      Bon chance mon amis! (Good luck my friend!)

      • Bob,

        Thanks for the encouraging words and the suggestion. I may have to try your suggestions. This crazy rollercoaster ride isn’t what I signed up for and it’s not been good on the team or our emotions.