Monday, April 20, 2009

Vision and Belief Inseparable from Leadership

We often talk about “the vision thing” when discussing keys to good leadership. It is correct that we do so because a vision of a preferable future is what drives us to accept the challenges of making changes required to achieve that new future. But vision alone is not enough, and vision held only by the leader or top echelon is doomed.

Recently I met with a leader who is searching for a way to help move his organization out of its complacency and on to bigger things. It is one of those situations where there is a general feeling that something is about to happen, but what it is remains unknown. The “what” is becoming clear to one person, however, the leader. And now he is struggling. Why? Because he isn’t certain others will get it, want to get it, or will know what to do with it if they do get it.

In other words, he doesn’t believe in his people. And without that belief the vision will be unrealized.

It is an interesting dynamic, isn’t it? The leader must have credibility at all levels of the organization in order to be effective. People must believe that the leader knows what they are doing, trust their integrity and accept their decisions even when they do not necessarily agree. That requires belief. The leader, on the other hand, must believe in their people or they will never be able to successfully transfer the vision of a better future to them.

One of the more difficult aspects of vision casting is that the instant you begin to release the vision to others you lose some degree of control over it and the outcome. Leaders must release it to others before it can take form and become reality. As others receive it they will interpret it in their own way and adapt it. It is in this way that a vision held at the top becomes a widely held vision that motivates acceptance of change, gaining momentum and moving the initiative forward.

If the leader does not have faith in the people then it will be very difficult to release the vision to them. The people must believe in the leader or they will not follow. The leader must believe in the people or they lead in title only and live a lonely existence.

When my children were young and learning their multiplication tables they would sometimes come to me for help or to show off. Every once in a while they would make up big numbers and try to stump me. I turned those around to teach them another life lesson. I used to show off with the zeroes.

72 x 0 = 0

845,386 x 0 = 0

1, 487,568 x 0 = 0

943,584 x God = God

God x you = all the computers in the world can’t hold that number

A leader’s vision x 0 = 0. The vision must be released, and that requires belief – in both directions.

No comments:

Post a Comment