How can you be doing all the right things and yet going in the wrong direction? When you don’t have a vision.
If you continually watch your feet when you’re walking around, you will avoid tripping and stumbling — but unless you look up, you could be going nowhere and not even realize it. That is where the vision comes in … it gives people something to reach for: a picture of where they need to be heading, and a really good reason to try to get there.
Mark Miller has recently posted an excellent series on the importance of vision for leadership, but a major point he makes throughout is that it is the leader’s responsibility to provide this vision. In addition to providing a look at the “end state”, a well-designed vision will keep the team working together with clarity and focus … as a team. An often abused (and unattributed) quote is:
“A leader without a vision is a manager”
Not to denigrate managers — there is a need for managers. Managers make sure things get done, and get done efficiently. Leaders take an organization into uncharted territory, helping the organization transition into what is needed for future success.
So — what does a “good” vision look like? Well, it needs to be something big … but not too big. It needs to give the team a sense of purpose, but it can’t be so big that it overwhelms them. The vision needs to be something that you’re passionate about — because, frankly, if you’re not excited about it, your team won’t be excited either … and if they’re not excited about it, nothing will happen. Finally, it must be something that is worth doing — something that will make enough of a difference that they will want to make it happen.
The last aspect about a good vision is that it must be known to the entire team. In order to be able to understand and follow your vision, they have to hear it — but more than that, they need to make it their vision. This can only happen if the leader communicates their vision — consistently and constantly.
- Impediment to Becoming a Best-Possible Leader: Lack of Vision (vistage.com)
- Set Your Leadership Vision In Motion (denisgmclaughlin.com)