In case you missed it, this is a summary of the Leadership Success Live Podcast for June 28, 2012.
Many business leaders shy away from concepts like vision because it seems intangible, unreachable or meaningless. In reality it puts the meaning behind what we do every day. We discussed some great case studies on this call.
I like Ken Blanchard’s definition of vision from Leading at a Higher Level (affiliate link) so we followed that formula for the call.
1. Purpose: why do you exist?
Vision is written in present tense as if it’s already reality. Notice the examples don’t necessarily mention “what” they provide (no mention of products or services), but they explain the “why” behind what they do.
Vision gives an organization greater purpose and reveals the significance in everyone’s work. It shows the seemingly mundane thing is really extraordinary. It keeps you on track when certain strategies or tactics don’t work or take longer than expected, because you’re always looking forward, not dwelling on short-term bumps in the road.
People need to believe in something bigger than themselves, bigger than numbers, bigger than any one customer, bigger than the company itself. Because people are inspired by big things. People are inspired by huge ideas and are motivated when they’re around people with these ideas.
For instance, the best, most successful engineers don’t just like to solve math problems and create drawings in SolidWorks. They sincerely believe they are changing the world and solving real problems for people
Similarly, the best, most successful accountants don’t just like to play with numbers and spreadsheets and be a pain around audit time. They sincerely believe they are making the world better and safer by bringing integrity to financial statements.
2. What do you stand for? (core values)
These form the basis for making any decisions, define the culture and are usually made public.
Core values is the beginning of creating(changing) the culture you want as a leader, getting the right people on the team and the wrong people off.
Values are great, but you need to know them, live them, and expect your employees to do the same
They are typically made public because leaders with vision are courageous. They want the world to know what they stand for, and they want to held accountable
3. What does the future look like?
This needs to be clear and specific so you believe it can happen, but big enough that you’re not really sure how to get there yet. This often remains private to upper management.
Lead with this picture of the future and don’t fill in the strategy yourself. If you give too much direction on how to get there, your vision probably isn’t big enough in the first place.
Second, you’ll just have people trying to execute your ideas because they want to please you. This will just attract people who want to follow directions and you won’t get the most creative solutions.
A proper vision is big enough that you can’t figure out how to make it happen alone. When you lead with vision, your best leaders will emerge and will be excited to help make it come true.
If you just provide a road map or desired metrics, that’s what people will do. If metrics are too much the focus, you will even get people doing unethical things to make their numbers. In this case, all you have done is created a culture of narrow-minded thinking; just monkeys in a factory trying to achieve numbers that you set out even if they could have created so much more. You won’t get creative and big ideas to keep the growth going.
Last week we talked about being a leader of people. Vision is one of the ways you can keep yourself from becoming a self-serving leader. As a leader you want to point everyone (including yourself) to something bigger than you.
Vision unifies the basis of decisions throughout the organization, not to control, but to make sure everyone is headed toward the same vision. Southwest Airlines is a great example of this.
Big vision, big thinking, big ideas, big results
It’s the people who have the courage to dream, think big, who make real things happen.
Vision is about thinking bigger. It’s about breaking traditional, easy ways of looking at things. If we only look at measurements like revenue, profits, market share, then we’re not thinking big enough.
People are afraid of concepts like vision because it seems intangible or unreachable or meaningless. In reality it puts the meaning behind what we do.
There isn’t meaning in reaching a financial goal. We all know this as individuals. We can make money, we can get big bonuses and how long does that joy last? If our purpose (our vision) isn’t bigger than ourselves, then we’re lost.
Short term wins are just that. They’re short term and won’t last forever. They won’t carry us through the tough times.
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