Nearly all leadership gurus agree on the fact that a compelling vision is essential to effective leadership. It seems obvious that the first step a new leader should take is to craft a detailed vision of what they want. Many do exactly this and are confused when they fail to see the changes they hoped for.
The blind spot for these leaders is that they failed to understand the organization first. A vision simply cannot be compelling when it is the dream of one individual and doesn’t embody the desires of the organization and/or community. This “blurry vision” is unlikely to become a reality. Clarity only comes from listening and seeking to truly understand those we lead.
Clear vision is the result of collaboration. Followers are unlikely to invest in a vision developed without their input. It is my belief that the leader should identify the destination and allow members of the organization to chart the course. For example, let’s assume a leader creates a vision of providing a world class customer experience. She should allow customers and employees a voice in defining the outcome and determining the path. General Patton once stated “Tell a man what to do, but not how to do it and he will surprise you with his ingenuity”.
- Ask your customers and employees how an exciting future would look
- Determine an “audacious destination/outcome” based upon this information
- Communicate this destination every time you speak inside and outside of the organization
- Collaboratively build and execute a strategic plan for reaching the destination with appropriate metrics and monitoring systems
- Collaboratively monitor progress and course correct when necessary
- Celebrate successes along the journey