“Vision without execution is just hallucination.”
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
“The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.”
“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”
Vision and leadership are two sides of the same coin. One can’t lead if they don’t know where they are going. I’m often asked how a leader can develop “vision.” There’s no simple answer.
The ability to see the future is an innate ability, rather than a skill-set. And, there are varying degrees of visionary ability. On one end of the spectrum, we have leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and Henry Ford. They epitomize the quote, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” On the other end of the spectrum, we have zero-vision leaders who basically buy the visions of others and implement them – like franchise owners. Franchising is the perfect solution for those that want to build a business, and execute someone else’s vision.
Most leaders, including myself, fall somewhere in between these two polar opposites. I couldn’t have envisioned the first car or the iPod if my life depended on it. However, I can innately see where my industry will be 24-48 months from now, and as I write this, I am developing something quite significant (with a partner) to disrupt the coaching industry.
There are two kinds of vision that every leader needs to run a successful business.
The first type of vision is the ability to paint a picture of where you are going. When you awake in the morning, are you able to see what’s beyond right in front of you? What drives you to build what you are building? What pain are you alleviating? Leadership is all about moving forward. How are you propelling yourself, you business, your customers, and your world towards a better future?
The second type of vision is the ability to see what is coming towards you. How aware are you of environmental changes that will impact your ability to implement your vision? It doesn’t matter how great your vision is if it doesn’t align with circumstances beyond your control (political climate, legislative agenda), or if it doesn’t take into consideration the needs of your customers.
Henry Ford suffered from tunnel vision and his disconnection with his customers. He obviously had extraordinary vision, but his Achilles heel was his refusal to continuously test his vision against reality, which led to the Ford Motor Company’s failure of continuous innovation, resulting in catastrophic loss of market share from which it never recovered. His story is chronicled in this Harvard Business Review blog post.
The “Ostrich Strategy” – sticking your head in the sand – has proven to be ineffective. We can’t ignore what’s on the horizon. We have to adapt to a new environment. For example, in the IT government contracting space, government agencies are adopting a service brokerage model. This article explains the shift.
They are moving away from multi-year, open-ended contracts, and are looking to purchase services on a project-by-project basis. This will require companies to modify their vision for their firm regarding their services, their partnering strategies, their resource planning, and their pricing models.
Even in the zero-vision franchising world, operators need to be aware of trends affecting their particular markets. This recent Forbes article highlights the most important consumer trends driving the franchise market.
Another example where vision has bumped up against reality is the creative services markets, which have become commoditized. Ten years ago, graphic designers could charge premium rates. Now, anyone can hire a graphic designer for as little as $5 an hour on sites like eLance and Fiverr, and can purchase complete branding packages for a few hundred dollars on sites like LogoTournament.com.
Vision can’t be on auto-pilot, with little consideration of what’s happening around the business.
Double vision will lead you forward; tunnel vision will lead you to a dead end.
Which vision are you practicing in your business?
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We work with business owners, CEOs, and leadership teams that want to achieve their greatest personal & organizational potential. Through coaching, strategic consulting, retreat facilitation, and workshops, we equip leaders & emerging leaders with the mindset, tools, strategies, and processes they need to excel.
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Please check out my Inc. Magazine columns on my Author Page too.
– In my latest Inc, article, I share The Essential Guide to Avoiding Workplace Text, Email, & Social Media Disasters.
– Learn about the 9 Leadership Behaviors that Lose Employee Trust & Respect here.
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“Taking Leaders from Triage to Transformation.”
photo credit Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net