Archive for the ‘Vision’ Tag

Boldly Going   Leave a comment

Photo courtesy of wikipedia

Photo courtesy of wikipedia

There are times in an organization when it is appropriate to take some bold steps.  In order to take those bold steps, a leader must be one to propose what those steps might be and then to work with others to move in that direction.  In a time when we clearly understand the great value of collaboration and a move away from hierarchy, it is very easy for leaders to adopt a view that any and all movement must be done in a “team-based” manner.  I think that this view creates an either/or scenario that I believe is unwarranted.  I find it much better to use a both/and approach.  Let me explain.

In the either/or scenario, the idea is a leader must either be dictatorial or must be passive and more of a facilitator.  If the leader wants to move the group forward in this scenario, then she/he must tell the group where it is going, how it is going to get there, and what the members must do as their required part.  The other side of this coin is that the leader calls the group together and then asks the question, “What should we do next?” and then sits backs and listens to the group.  The first option seems harsh and struggles to get “buy in” from the members especially if they are volunteers.  The second option often leads to a lot of wandering and usually a growing frustration on the part of the members.  So I find this approach unhelpful and even detrimental.

Side note:  This either/or approach seems to have dominated the thinking of most leaders and most organizations that I have witnessed or been a part of over the last twenty years.

With the both/and approach, the leader is directive in nature but encourages input and makes alterations based on input.  This approach lends itself to a leader casting a clear vision regarding the direction of the organization.  The leader must be strong in communicating this vision and even stronger in communicating the reasons for this vision.  Once the leader has cast a vision, then he/she seeks out and creates opportunities for discussions to occur.  Input is sought from a variety of sources within the organization.  Dialogue and discussion among members and the leadership occur so clarification and understanding may be established.  The leader takes into account the thoughts and perceptions shared by the members of the organization and makes adjustments to the vision when and  if they are warranted to make the vision stronger and acceptable by the majority of members.  This approach does not present a heavy-handed action of a leader but instead allows the leader to lead and the members to have confidence in that leadership.

So I encourage us to “boldly go where no others have gone.” I encourage leaders to cast clear visions and then truly listen.  I encourage members of organizations to seek leaders who take a both/and approach instead of the either/or approach.

A Time for Visionaries   Leave a comment


Foresight (Photo credit: inf3ktion)

I had a conversation last night with a colleague.  During this conversation we were discussing the gifts that each person brings to a situation.  An observation that my colleague made is that we are in need of more visionaries.  I couldn’t agree with her more.  I think that in many facets of life, we are lacking visionaries.  Whether it be in the political realm or the realm of business or the settings of non-profits, there have not been many visionaries in the recent years.  But I believe there is move towards changing this.

Leading to this change is a growing awareness of the need for visionaries.  Most people would agree that we have become mired in the status quo.  Over the last forty years there have been some significant breakthroughs in small pockets of our society.  One example is the advancement of Microsoft and Apple.  There have been medical breakthroughs which have occurred such as much less evasive forms of treatment.  However, overall, in the areas of leadership, we have not had many visionary leaders.  The only one that I can recall is President Ronald Reagan who had a vision of a different type of United States and was able to convince others to join the movement in that direction.  With that exception, most leaders have not been visionaries but more administrators.

Anyone that looks around today realizes that things are not going in the right direction.  Again, there are small pockets of success and movement but overall we have become rather stagnant in many ways.  I believe this is the result of not having leaders who are able to look at the “big picture” and plan for something different.  Instead of having visionaries we have administrators who tweak little parts here and there in an attempt to improve situations but generally maintain what is in place.  Visionaries are ready to put a whole new reality forth after taking time to determine what a new future may look like.

The encouraging news is that I am hearing more visionary voices begin to speak out.  I see small groups of individuals that understand the need for visionaries.  I hear conversations regarding these new voices and a willingness to follow some of these visionaries.  I believe that more people need to start listening to and supporting these women and men who are casting visions and speaking of new possibilities.  I believe that we need to find ways to identify and place in leadership those who see the big picture and are able to cast a vision.

I strongly feel that now is a time in which we need visionaries!

Vision is the Fuel   2 comments


Ripples (Photo credit: Bill Gracey)

I have recently been thinking a lot about visions.  As a leader, I have come to realize how important it is for a vision.  I believe that a vision is what provides the fuel for an organization or a person to move forward.  In the Bible, I find this passage:  “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  (Proverbs 29:18a)  Vision is vital as the driving force to move all things forward.

I think that one of the issues that arises with many organizations and individuals is the lack of a vision.  As we have moved to be more inclusive in the decision-making process, I think that we have inadvertently eliminated a vision caster in most situations.  As we have moved toward being realistic in our personal lives, we have stopped creating visions that seem too lofty and often stopped creating visions at all.  The results are a lot of stagnation in organizations and the lives of individuals.

I believe we need to recapture the importance of lofty visions.  We need to acknowledge that there are visionaries and we need to allow them to cast visions.  I also believe that vision casting is not a group activity.  But when we allow the vision casters to do the visioning, then the next important step is for those casters to communicate the vision clearly to others.  During that communication, we need to be willing to take risks and to strive to see what we cannot see now.  The vision then comes to life as that vision is spread and appropriated by others.  The realizing of the vision is only possible with the input and involvement of others.  So I view it similar to the effects of a stone being tossed into a pool of water.  However, there is only one person who cast that stone.

We need more visions.  We need more vision casters.  We need more fuel to move us from stagnation to living.

Don’t Stop   Leave a comment

Sometimes in life and in leadership, it can become a struggle to keep believing that where you want to go is where you will end up arriving.  There can be days when you feel that the forward motion has ended, the vision is fading, and there is no hope of achieving what you have set out to do.  Then you have days when situations come together and you realize that you can, and are, moving forward toward the destination you had planned out.

Today as I reflected on recent events that have renewed my hopes for the visions in my life, I experienced great joy.  I began to think about what would have happened if I had given up on the vision I had in the leadership areas of my life.  I thought about what would have happened if I had given up on the vision that I had for my life as a whole.  These thoughts led me to a phrase in the lyrics of a song by Journey entitled “Don’t Stop Believing”.  So this is my theme song for the day.  I hope that it gives you some inspiration as well.

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Vision and Trust   4 comments

Regional Leadership Forum

Regional Leadership Forum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ran across this quote yesterday:


The Essence of Leadership

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.

– Theodore Hesburgh

Where there is no vision, the people perish.  – Proverbs 29:18

The quote caused me to pause and consider the role of vision in leadership once again.  A close friend and fellow leader of mine often brings up the important point of being able to articulate a clear vision.  I truly understand this importance.  One of my questions though is who should be the one(s) to cast the vision?  I have seen leaders who as an individual define a vision for whatever organization they are leading, then articulate it and the organization members are expected to work towards the manifestation of the vision.  I have also have seen leaders who gather key leaders within the organization and as a team they define the organization’s vision and then champion that vision to the members.  In both cases, I have seen success and failure.  I believe that which approach to vision casting is taken depends on the style of the leader.


However, if the success rate is not strongly tied to one approach over the other, that leads me to think that there must be other elements involved in the success.  I think that one of the key element for success of vision manifestation is trust.  Whether the vision is cast and articulated by one chief leader or by a team of leaders, if the members of the organization does not have trust in the vision caste


, the success is almost impossible.  This seems to be true in all regards to leaders.  If a leader(s) does not have the trust of those whom he/she/they are trying to lead, there is very little chance they will see success in almost any area of their leadership.


So while I agree with the importance of the vision for the future of the organization.  I would place alongside the vision the importance of generating trust in the leadership.