By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you better define your vision. Reading time: 4:26
Think of a rainbow the next time you’re developing a vision for your organization.
Like a rainbow, a vision is not an object, not a “thing” despite the dismissive citation of a former US President.
Like a rainbow, a vision is a frame of reference, a vantage point from a SPECIFIC ANGLE to see your organization in a different light.
And like a rainbow, a vision can’t be seen and/ or developed from the top down; a vision can only be seen and/or developed from the side –no matter what kind of rose colored glasses you are wearing.
From the side, a leader can better get up close and personal to more accurately assess key components of a vision such as competition, customers and employees.
From the side–up close and personal –a leader can come to more personally experience their company’s strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace; threats and opportunities, and key trends for product or service differentiation.
From the side–up close and personal– a leader can more fully listen to what the customer is NOT saying that would enhance the value-add of their product or service.
And from the side–up close and personal–a leader can more directly look their employees in the eye to gain and retain their trust.
But first, the leader’s view from the side has to be precise to discern a viable vision, much like the specific 42 degree angle of vision required to see a rainbow, according to the laws of physics. No wonder the most effective visionary leaders realize their followers may have the same view but not the same vision as you; they may have the same location but not the same vantage point .
Giving Them Their Own
Vision of Your Vision
That’s why the most effective visionary leaders give followers enough latitude to formulate THEIR OWN vision of the leader’s vision. Then together leaders and followers see their own personally-sighted (and sited) rainbows interwoven into one stunning spectrum of synergy. Then together they reach out farther than ever before to collectively collect their pot of gold at the end of their proverbial rainbows.
Significantly, rainbows that pithy and powerful require a specific atmosphere to form and flourish. So do visions of leaders.
Just as no rainbow can exist without moisture in the air –from rain or mist or air born dew or spray from a waterfall or fountain– no leader’s vision can exist without an atmosphere of inclusion, respect, and integrity toward all followers that engages their self interests and infuses them with a personal sense of purpose that leverages their strengths.
That’s why the leader’s challenge is to feed that vision with an ATTITUDE baked into their hearts and souls more than so many platitudes plastered on the walls and halls.
A vision is more than a mantra, more than a slogan. A vision is a feeling more than a destination; an aspiration more than an inspiration, an insight more than a sight.
Discovering the Soul
And with that insight, a vision helps others experience the soul of the organization; the beneficial difference of the organization, the competitive advantage of the organization and the significance of the organization’s institutional memory.
With that vision, followers come to better understand the guiding force of the organization; the guiding force that governs what we stand for and more significantly what we won’t stand for; a guiding force that governs who we are and why we exist and a guiding force that governs the values, beliefs and culture fueling where we are going and what are we doing today (the mission) to stay on track.
Then with that guiding force, with that vision, followers are better equipped to align their personal values, beliefs, talents, skills, hopes and desires to contribute to the lifeblood, to the collective premise, promise and purpose of the organization.
With that guiding force, with that vision, a leader strikes the tone and temper of the organization that energizes others with a toe-tapping resonance that quite literally moves them.
From a Different Angle
Consider the toe-tapping, resonance-driven vision of Henry Kaiser, the president of a shipbuilding company in the United States during World War II.
A flood had swept away the levee and buried Kaiser’s bulldozers and other heavy equipment in a quagmire of mud and machinery. Kaiser’s employees were devastated at the loss that turned a would-be ship-building yard into a gigantic mud pie.
But Kaiser quite literally saw things from a different angle. Wading knee-deep in mud, he responded confidently, “ I don’t see any mud.”
One of his employees chided Kaiser, saying, “Just look around we are buried in mud.” Kaiser looked sternly at the employee and helped his followers see in themselves what he could see in them –the ultimate origination of any vision: their souls, their meaning, their purpose. Kaiser said:
“The difference is this: You are looking down
and can’t see anything but mud,
but I am looking up
where I can see nothing
but sunshine and clear blue sky.”
And of course, the leader saw the rainbow– because of not in spite of –the rain. So can you reign over your rainbows with a vision. From an angle.
Take a look at your organization from the side to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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