BEc, BCom, CPA, MBA (Exec)
“Is Your Vision Clear?”
In business or government how often have we heard the words, “Let the CEO worry about the vision!” or “Managers manage. Execs do the fluffy stuff!”?
These statements, and others like them, can be thrown straight back at the managers touting them. Vision setting is something every people leader can and should be practicing, from team leader right through to CEO.
What is this ethereal thing called “vision”? Unfortunately the term has attracted some negativism, being tarred as fluffy consultant speak, at best suitable to transformational leaders on a mission to change organisational culture. This is indeed true and if such leaders don’t possess a vision for the organisations they lead then they are lacking. But let’s take it further and let’s get back to basics. Vision is an image of a desirable future that is articulated to and understood by, the larger part of any team. It tells people where you want to take them and gives them direction. It tells them why. It tells them what they will gain, both personally and as a team, if they join you on that journey. Importantly, it inspires them.
So why then is vision limited to only the loftiest of management heights? The point is, it isn’t. Aside from my academic views, as a business leader the most success I have had with my teams is when I have taken the time and shown the interest to give them the leadership they deserve. That starts with setting a vision that they can relate to both as people and as employees. That is, it has relevance – it is created with reference to the environment, the people and the challenges currently faced or the wonderful opportunities out there just waiting to be taken. You build it and fashion it with care and deep understanding.
Vision setting is personal and it must be genuine. It is also a process that, when based on analysis of facts and combined with a true (not fake) passion for your people and for the organisation, can achieve amazing motivational and transformational results. At the risk of seeming prescriptive consider these hints when setting a vision:
A final point of contention - should vision-setting be a team-based activity? Should you focus-group the setting of your team’s visions? My view - consult your team in building your picture and respect the valuable insights they can share, but ultimately people want their leader to lead. Leaders set vision not focus groups.