Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is Vision Enough?

It often seems that discussions about leaders and leadership begin with a statement about vision.
  • All great leaders have a vision!
  • She is such a visionary leader!
  • I really buy in to his vision for our future!
It’s even fair to ask, “What good is a leader without a vision?” Having a vision for a better future is critical for any leader as it provides something to focus on for the future, a goal to attain, and even hope for all who believe.

Many companies today are struggling with reduced sales, shrinking profit margins, and reduced or non-existent profits. And, most employees realize the direct correlation between sales and profitability and their ability to receive raises in their salary, or even to keep their jobs. When this happens, new leadership is often brought in, bringing with them a fresh vision and new direction for the organization. Perhaps it involves developing new products, engaging in new markets, or improving the customer experience. Whatever it is, this new vision is expected to provide guidance to the organization and put it back on the path to profitability.

While I would certainly agree that vision is an important tool for any leader, you have to wonder if having a vision for the future is enough to solve the problems that we face.

The answer is “no”. Vision is just not enough.

A vision without some type of a plan is nothing more than a pipe dream. It’s like a starving man looking at a photograph of a fantastic meal. I mean, it looks good. You can use the picture to clearly depict what you want, but if you lack the funds to purchase the food or worse, purchase the food but do not know how to prepare it, then that picture doesn’t do anyone much good. After all, for a starving man what would be more nourishing – a picture of a Thanksgiving-style feast, or a bowl of rice?

Vision is indeed one of the key responsibilities of the leader. They must have the vision, they must communicate the vision, and, most importantly, they must position the followers so that the vision can be achieved. True leaders don’t rely on a vision without a plan. Instead, they create the vision, create the plan, put the right people into place, and provide the right tools to make it all come together.

Only then can they say that they have really led.

I hope that you enjoyed this article. At ECI Learning Systems LLC we are dedicated to improving productivity and profitability by creating engaged organizations. Our unique combination of training and personalized coaching, combined with our expertise in assessments allow us to create a development plan tailored for your success.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. This was provocative Dave,

    Vision as you say is almost considered a prerequisite for leadership. And as you say it is not enough. (Is there any leadership trait that is?)

    I was listening to Terry Gross and Fresh Air yesterday as she interviewed a Fire Captain and his team who were trapped in the World Trade Center when it collapsed. For a brief period of time it was all about survival and picking up the pieces. And then as a ray of light pierced the darkness of the stair well Vision kicked in again. The Vision to break through the walls to the outside.

    While Vision may not be enough by it self, I think it is in fact part of the definition of leadership. The leader sees the path (envisions the path) and then followers follow to reach the goal.

    Thanks for your continued work