Monday, 30 January 2012

Leadership - Quality 3 - Vision

Let's now examine the third quality required by a great leader, as extracted from an article by Business Link.

People with sight see things as they are.
People with insight see things as they could be.

(Joseph P. Martino)

Quality 3 - A great leader defines a clear Vision for the business, and focuses the attention of everyone on it.

Establishing a clear company vision helps to ensure your business goes in the direction you want it to. It gives focus to management, employees, suppliers, collaborators and even customers. In essence, it defines a roadmap for where your business and its people are heading.

So how can you begin to define a vision? Strong awareness helps. It pays to know what's going on inside and outside your organisation, and have access to strong information and intelligence. This means using management, employees and other sources to inform and guide your thinking. But while others can inform and guide, they should not direct or dictate your vision. As a leader it is your job to look into the unknown and set a direction for the future as you see it.

Upon sound intelligence you can build an educated view of the future. According to leadership expert Warren Bennis, a vision needs to provide people with a "bridge to the future". In the first instance this means defining where you want to be one, three, five or ten years from now. From these points, leaders must 'reverse engineer' to provide specific, practical and achievable plans which detail the key steps required to realise the vision. Sometimes referred to as 'futurecasting'., the process of visualising and road-mapping the future is an important leadership role.

Warren Bennis stresses the importance of 'giving meaning' to a vision 'through communication'. There should be four components to a vision: "A compelling story, an image, it must be achievable and it has to be forward-looking". A vision could be described as part story, part plan. The story must be clear, compelling and easy to communicate, while the plan provides the specifics required to make it happen.

You might begin with impassioned speeches that articulate your vision, but be sure to follow up with practical steps which turn vision into reality; steps such as building specific goals into management, employee or supplier responsibilities or conducting regular management meetings and monitoring to ensure your vision is rigorously pursued.

More generally, look for opportunities to constantly 'give meaning' to your vision through strong communication and management. Tell your story of the future, then inspire, compel and enable others to follow your lead.

If you feel this would be easier for you to achieve whilst working with me, then please get in touch with Nicholl Consultancy, we would love to hear from you.

Until next time - be a visionary!