Vision, as I have defined, illustrated, explained, and elaborated upon is the number one critical component of an effective leadership dynamic if, and I mean a big IF, IF it is coupled with decisive deliberate intelligent relevant action.
Way back in the early posts for this series I said that we are caught in tension between the forms, products, systems, and processes we as leaders have inherited and our constituents increasing lack of response to them. Let me add another qualifier. Sometimes the activities that fill our days have no relevance whatsoever to the vision so proudly posted upon our walls and promotional publications.
Their irrelevance might be due to technological obsolescence. They were important at one time and technologically necessary but are no longer. The driver’s license office in the U.S. Virgin Islands still collected passport size photos long after they had been replaced with new digital cameras and printers. When I asked what they did with the photos, I was told they simply stapled them to the paperwork and sent them to the main office. When I asked why they still collected them I was told it was because it was on the checklist of things required and tasks to do for each applicant.
Their irrelevance might be due to too tight a focus. Blockbusters comes to mind. They thought they were in the video and DVD business and let that too narrow focus blind them from the real business, that of in-home presentation of movies and games. As a result, Blockbusters is gone, Netflix is here, Amazon Prime and those offering downloadable entertainment are here.
Vision, once it is properly thought out, defined, and articulated, is paramount. It becomes the standard by which anything and everything within the boundaries of the company, organization, or department is measured and either qualified or disqualified.
This is where the next component in the curriculum of my series comes in. The vision must ever and always be implemented in real time. However, if vision and its objectives, and the targets you erect remain vague enough, no genuine or quantifiable measure is possible. Thus, any movement in just about any direction can be deemed to be progress. This actually satisfies a great many leaders who’s comfort with being busy crowds out the imperative to be prudent.
Consequently, movement or activity itself becomes the sought after activity. Whether one advances toward the vision or not becomes irrelevant. Perilously, anyone who dares challenge the activity’s validity as measured against objectives becomes the issue, not the lack of progress. We shoot the messenger because s/he’s brought the irrelevance of our commitments to light.
It happens over and over and over again in all kinds of organizations – big and small, profit and non-profit, religious and secular. Once a slate of activities becomes established it is very likely you will encounter resistance, sometimes significant objection and sabotage should you decide change is necessary.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it,” said Peter Drucker. I began with the quote and I’ll finish up with it. The future cannot be neither readily created nor expeditiously implemented without a fervent commitment to continual evaluation. Creation demands a creator.
That is you and that is your job. The mantle of leadership requires a creator’s attitude and perspective.
Beginning with the next post I will reveal the two elements of effectively implementing vision. Until then, let me ask of you one thing. Between now and Monday, take a careful look at the vision to which you are committed and then examine the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks you and your staff complete and see how well they measure up.