Vision and Leadership
Show me a leader and I am certain he or she is going ‘somewhere’.
One of my favorite leadership definition is by John Maxwell (noted leadership expert) who stated, that "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way."In essence, leadership is about ‘discovering, articulating and translating’ vision. A close second is by Eric Hoffer that defined a leader, as ‘one who is practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist’, also accurately depicting the correlation between leadership and vision.
One of our early encounters with visionary leaders is the one with our parent(s), caregivers or designated parental authority that had the enviable task of shaping our destinies with a name. I am fully aware of the tedious process involved in some cultures in selecting the name for a new born child and know of many parents who spent significant time meditating, praying, seeking counsel and inquiring from family members and their parents (child’s grandparents) on what the destiny of their new born might be, as additional insight into selecting the appropriate name which will impact, shape and influence the child’s destiny.
- Similarly, pet owners display vision when they name their pet along salient observable traits.
- Artists, architects, sculptors and painters reveal their vision in their creations and often see a completed picture, statue or portrait well before they begin to create, draw, design, crave or paint.
- Musicians and composers often write notes to songs already completed in their hearts and heads.
- Inventors speak of creating the future today by embracing concepts and ambiguities.
The lack of vision is fatal to anyone or organization and according to the book of proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov 29:18). So invariably, a visionless leader isn’t only a danger to him or herself but the organization, society and nation at large. Indeed any enterprise with ‘blind leaders’ is cursed. For when a leader cannot see, then he or she doesn’t know and if there is no pre-motion, foreknowledge then without much ado there will be a dearth of motion and acceleration.
Additional characteristics of blindness include the following:
- Inability to see threats and opportunities.
- Apathy and delusion that leads to inability to stay ahead.
- Unreasonable elevation of traditional values and past glories.
- Misaligned priorities and lack of purpose.
So how can anyone restore ‘blurred or lost’ vision?
- Seek solitude.
I refer to this ‘down time’ as quiet time. Our inability to reflect destroys our abilities to hear the voice of intuition and endless possibilities. While it’s very challenging to fully disengage, sometimes consciously stepping away from technology, TV and readily available distractions could be a good way to rejuvenate the soul and spirit. Thereby, restoring vision and focus.
- Be inquisitive, ask uncomfortable questions.
Do not ask if you don’t want or can not handle the truth. The process of change requires the willingness to receive uncomfortable feedback. Additionally, if you are the leader, ensure you create the empowering environment such that constructive dialogue is permesible.
- Develop the willingness to confront anxieties.
What are the anxieties that your organization or team are facing? I love this quote by John Galbraith that states that, "All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." Develop the willingness to confront these anxieties.
- Step outside.
This is one of the most confusing step because it challenges our assumptions the most. This step requires being quiet to learn, observe issues and concerns outside your typical sphere of influence. So step outside your common circle and comfort zones, go on talk to people outside your circles, take the subway, visit remote sales offices, visit the customer service team, talk to other industry leaders, join a recreational league, go beyond your neighborhood and network. You’ll be amazed.
What do you think? Have you seen a blind or blurred vision restored, do you know what steps were employed? Or perhaps you’ve lost your vision and have some tips that worked, then please do share.
‘Flo Falayi, Ph.D.(c) is the President of Hybrid Leaders Inc., a consulting and coaching practice focused on empowering next generation leaders. Flo’s doctoral research is on Hybrid Leaders, which focuses on the leadership styles of bi-cultural managers.
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