The most powerful thing
Ken Blanchard told me he’s having the 51st anniversary of his 21st birthday tomorrow (May 6, 2011). Happy Birthday Ken!
Ask him if he plans to retire and he’ll joyfully scoff, “I’m not retired, I’m refired!” We talked for over an hour and I think he gathered steam as the conversation progressed.
Ken’s jubilant energy exuded through the phone when he said, “Nothing is more powerful than vision.” One thing is certain; vision powers his engine from stem to stern. Perhaps lack of vision is one reason many lose vitality?
Ken explained five reasons vision is vital.
- Vision is the starting point of leadership.
- Vision determines direction. Leadership is about going somewhere. If you aren’t going somewhere, your leadership style doesn’t matter.
- Vision is something to serve. Without vision, the only thing left to serve is yourself. Visionless organizations will eventually be led by self-serving leaders.
- Vision overcomes the power of criticism. Without vision squeaky wheels control organizations.
- Vision creates unity. Without vision you can’t get on the same team.
A frightening and sad observation.
Ken and coauthor Jesse Stoner wrote, “Full Steam Ahead: Unleashing the Power of Vision in your Work and Your Life.” In it they say, “Less than 10% of the organizations we visited are led by managers who have a clear sense of where they are trying to lead people.”
Reread the five reasons vision is vital and realize that 90% of the organizations they visited don’t enjoy the benefits of vision.
One more thing.
I think vision fuels youthful, exuberant energy. I’m not letting the cat out of the bag when I say Ken Blanchard doesn’t have to work for a living. However, he’s one of the most energized people I’ve talked with.
Do you have vision? How has it impacted your life and leadership?
Dan, this is so awesome. I focus on leadership a lot in my educational conferences for women in business. The issue is not about capacity or capability with most people, everyone has leadership and vision. It’s more about tapping into to it and developing it. It’s like a skill or gift someone has that needs to be used and practiced to get bigger, better, brighter.
Fabulous way of describing vision and its importance. Yet, disturbing to learn that less than 10% of the organizations are led with good clarity of vision. No wonder why only few organizations succeed in achieving its predetermined goals.
The set vision needs to be shared with all employees taking the effective medium of communication. Similarly, time-to-time progress can be informed with a sole objective of keeping the employee commitment level as high as possible with timely results.
It’s CEO who can set the vision rolling across the organization and should take the people along for its accomplishment.
It strikes me as odd that so few organizations could have a vision, either stated or unstated. It begs the question, “So what are we doing here?”
In the teaching profession, a good lesson, a good unit of instruction, always involves a vision. Before preparing the lesson, one must ask, “What am I trying to accomplish here?” And more importantly, “What do I want my students to accomplish here?”
It seems to me that this would be the same in business. What is our company, department doing? What are we trying to do? What do I need my team to do to accomplish this or come closer to this vision?
In teaching, we call these “essential questions”. I wonder if business would benefit from this practice?
Ken and Jesse are right on the money for me! It is all about vision and purpose – always has been and always will be! The way I have succeeded in all the leadership roles I’ve had in my career is to value my people and engage them in why they are there and where they are going!
I have been doing the same with my latest consultancy project and the CEO has grasped this notion fully, much to her everlasting credit! Times may be difficult but on-going communication, repeated commentary on the vision and personal visible commitment to it is making real, positive change happen. All of which is to be further reinforced at a full staff event in July.
As for the low stats on vision in business, I find this unsurprising if my own experience is anything to go on! I worked for 25 years in local government in the UK and barely met a credible vision or, for that matter, a senior manager that could communicate one! Most were technically competent managers not leaders and that’s where the ‘real deal’ was struck!
In my last role as a Head of Service my staff and the service were often referred to by other colleagues as anachronistic. Our inconsistency that caused such irritation was, I believe, that my staff knew where they were going, were engaged, were informed and were expected to speak up as the occasion deserved – not a typical compliant functionary model I think!
Apologies for the stream of consciousness – you touched a ‘gusher’ with this post!
PS Thanks for enabling me to win a copy of Josh Linkner’s book!
Love the conversation on vision. In my own life vision provides focus and energy. “How is what I’m doing or about to do fit into my vision?” It is not that everything has to fit, but the very act of screening creates a level of consciousness about how I’m spending my time. That enables so much greater focus and opportunity for success and fulfillment! I’m with Ken – Retire – yuck! Whose idea was that!!
Great point, and it is important to learn how to tap into your vision and to own it in order to effectively lead!
Dan, Another great post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Without a vision the people will perish!!!! Howie
Do you have vision? How has it impacted your life and leadership?
First, Happy Birthday to Ken! Second, Dan you have given us another question that begs self disclosure – um, thanks :-).
For me, the answer is “yes” to having vision. BUT that vision is much more clear regarding what I want out of my personal life (i.e., it was always, always an absolute that I would have children) than about my professional life. The professional vision always has the “mom w/kids” component woven through and to find an organization that is one of the 10% WITH vision, that also understands that most parents need and want to integrate their parenting needs with their worker needs is …………. I suppose it sounds negative to say it’s impossible but after 28 years in the workforce, 14 of them as a working parent ………..let’s just say it’s hard to find.
The other challenge I find to expressing my individual vision and sharing it with those I work with (and with whom I am a family member, for that matter) is that I tend to keep it to myself, thinking how beautiful it would be if the vision manifested itself but struggling to find a way to involve others. I think that is what has rekindled my writing efforts to some degree – getting the thoughts out without being put in a position to immediately justify my point helps the thoughts be more cohesive.
For me the driver is #3, something to serve because that does cause one to look outside, to look long term, to look beyond yourself…in your time here.
Two points about the less than 10% having a vision—hey, it could be 5%, or only 1% or 0!
1) 10% can be a championing cadre of excellence…and they obviously are since Ken and Jesse tracked them down. Think of the rich depths that are mined to learn how to do it well! The other 90%…golden opportunities! In a workforce of 100, with a focused vision, 10 can change the culture.
2) We are dialoguing about it here at LF and at loads of other places. 20 years ago, we would not have had this forum. Think about what it can be 20 years from now!!
Loose sidecar: I was at the grocery store yesterday and they are selling 1, 2 & 5 gig flashdrives as ‘impulse buys’ at the checkout stand. Flashdrives!!! Not your ‘normal’ impulse buy, but hey, accessible and is the information ‘impulse buy’ far behind? If they can do that with technology now, imagine what will be bartered in 20 years!
Interwoven information, knowledge and technology immediately accessible with free’r’ flowing communication and continuous improvement.
Since GI Joe says ‘knowing is half the battle’ we can’t say we don’t know what excellence, unified vision and committed service looks like. We just can’t.
Ken Blanchard doesn’t have to work because he (with Paul Hersey) made a pile of money from “Situational Leadership” which has not a single mention of vision – so how come it’s now the essence of leadership?
One explanation could be that Sit Lead is misnamed. It’s not really about leadership – it’s about supervision.
Vision gives us purpose. Purpose gives us significance. Without it, we just exist .. which is unfulfilling. Lets choose to be fulfilled each day. Thanks Ken and Dan!
Thanks for the inspiration! Reminds me when people admire others for being professional, I want to remind them that the sensational level is where the inspiration of leadership is really at!
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