Kubica LaForest Consulting Newsletter: December 2013
Shared Vision – A Critical Leadership Tool
Unless there is alignment by the executive team and collective understanding by your staff on where you are going, why you are going there, and what the benefits are, the chance of successfully moving the organization forward is low.
Simply stated – shared vision matters.
Leadership can be defined as the ability to organize and influence others to take action to achieve a common task or goal. Leadership is intangible, hard to describe but easy to spot. What do all great leaders do? They give us a vision; they give us a glimpse of what the future could look like and the benefits we can experience, and they get us excited about helping create it.
In late November, the nation spent time reflecting on the assassination of John F. Kennedy – it happened 50 years ago. A theme was about his vision for the country. One was his challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, which we did.
While it may be easy to understand a political leader's vision, such as we experienced with President Kennedy, it may be harder for us to understand that leaders at all levels of an organization have the same power to move an organization forward with a shared vision.
Shared vision has been shown to improve outcomes in:
Let's look at the boss–subordinate relationship. This is especially important to us because research shows that employees leave bosses more often than they leave companies. The tales of the "bad boss" are legendary, and sometimes frightening.
How about when the boss–subordinate relationship works? What's happening? What's happening is that they have a shared vision of:
This starts with the leader – with you. You need to have and persistently reinforce the vision of where you are headed; be open to ideas, thoughts and suggestions from your subordinates and from your team members; be able to articulate the roles and ways team members contribute to making it happen; and the benefits to everyone involved. Lastly and key, you must listen – to your team members, your staff, your clients. If you don't, then you simply are not a leader. You may be a manager but you surely are not a leader.
Now there is an important caveat to mention in the critical boss–subordinate relationship. A good one is grounded in shared vision with mutual expectations. That doesn't mean the boss and the subordinate need to be best friends or even friends. They need, however, to respect each other as people, respect and support each other's: work, ethics, knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes.
The boss–subordinate dyad that is based on favoritism or sycophantic behavior is not a contributor to success because in this scenario the support one provides the other is opportunistic and not substantive. Others in the organization can easily see the favoritism, and sycophantic behavior screams out to the organization. A shared vision is just that – shared not for personal agendas, but for the collective good of the business.
Let's expand on a few of the prior examples regarding research supporting the importance of shared vision in creating a positive outcome:
So, ask yourself, how do you as the leader, catalyze a shared vision?
It starts with you having a vision for the future, which is:
Some managers, who are trying to be leaders, set ridiculously unachievable goals thinking that aggressive goals will motivate the employees. The exact opposite happens.
Let's look at some examples:
Once your vision for the future is defined and it is realistic, believable, and achievable, now you need to sell it. This is an active, day–to–day ongoing process that involves:
Think about great leaders whom you worked for or whom you admire. Now compare the above attributes with the great leaders you know.
While the debate on whether leaders are made or born will go on and on into the future, we leave you with our opinion: Leaders are made. They are made by intention and practice. If you want to be a leader, if you choose to be a leader, and you are willing to learn, exhibit, and practice the traits of a leader, the likelihood of you becoming a leader are very good.
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Posted: December 17, 2013