Saturday, December 22, 2007

Can you see it? Vision is key for leaders.

This past week I was pondering the role of vision for quiet leaders. I was prompted by the comment from leadership speaker and trainer Dan Stockdale on last week's post Quick Leadership Test - Are you a we or me leader?

In his comment Dan stated, "One of the other fundamental tenets for leaders is the ability for a leader to develop and instill a shared vision amongst their team."

The role of vision is not a new principle at the Lead Quietly blog. In Act with vision - the Vision of Quiet Leadership, I proposed that leaders need to Act with Vision, that is, leaders should act with forward looking purpose, act with awareness of events around finally, begin with the end in mind.

My continuing review of The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner is the perfect platform for expanding our Quiet Leader notes on vision. Vision is an important tenet of their leadership principles. Here are some snippets.

The Kouzes and Posner definition:
Vision .... means an ideal and unique image of the future for the common good. It implies a choice of values and something that brings meaning and purpose to our lives.

Visions are about hopes, dreams, and aspirations. They're about our strong desire to achieve something great.....Visions necessarily stretch us to imagine exciting possibilities, breakthrough technologies, or revolutionary social change.

Kouzes and Posner describe the importance of a shared vision across a team or organization.

Remember that leadership is a dialogue, not a monologue. Leadership isn't about imposing the leader's solo dreams; it's about developing a shared sense of destiny.

Finally, I encountered an inhibitor to vision that I have experienced, that is, a situation where a vision can be prevented from taking hold. Kouzes and Posner cite,
Visions are not strategic plans. Strategic planning often spoils strategic thinking because it causes managers to believe that the manipulation of numbers creates imaginative insight into the future and vision.

The suggestion is that vision stacked against plans, budgets, and resource allocations, may not stand up. The standard tools of planning don't add insight or drive to a vision. In fact, my experience suggests that saddling a vision with standard management tools like plans, budgets, and reports may kill the vision.
Anyone else see this challenge?

Finally a closing quotation from
Theodore M. Hesburgh, President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame,
The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

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