Weekly Thought – December 28, 2021
Fred enjoyed distilling and clarifying. His ability to take a broad topic, squeeze out the essence, and then magnify its utility was one of his major strengths. He called it “putting handles on the pot.” He said ideas needed effective transportation just like a pot needs a handle to make it passable from one to another. Today’s thoughts on organizational vision exemplify this skill.
Moving the Vision
One of a leader’s functions is to gather followers around the vision, not himself/herself. This is where integrity comes into the equation. The leader who coagulates others is an embezzler. Using personal magnetism as a means of getting things done is, to me, manipulation.
Leaders must recognize several subtle dynamics:
1) Decisions are not commitments: The first is short-term; the other long-term. People can decide to work toward a specific emphasis; commitment’s aim is the ultimate purpose. Both are necessary. Those with only a long-term focus will often fail to accomplish much. Short-term is usually the trigger for activity. The leader’s job is to motivate movement using decision to accomplish commitment. Wise leaders know that when they get a decision (even a group decision) they haven’t necessarily gotten commitment. One of the downfalls of leadership is evoking an emotional decision which will fall apart.
2) Recognize the “driving wheels”: In any organization there are those who provide momentum and those who are just along for the ride. Effective leaders know establishing commitment from the driving wheels will ordinarily result in the others coming along. Correct identification is critical for stable, forward progress in any group or organization. The best way to motivate driving wheels is not emotion but comprehension. My good friend Jack Turpin says the only way for people to perform excellently over the long term is if they fully comprehend what they are doing. Leaders must be honest about the vision, the effort necessary, and reasons for expending it. Lasting motivation is persuasion through comprehension. The key to a driving wheel is asking, “Do you agree this is something worth doing? If so, let’s commit to it together.”
3) Know when it is time to change the vision: Strong leaders know the situation does not hold still forever. It is always important to measure the vision against the desired results. Perseverance is a positive attribute for a healthy leader, but the ability to sense the direction is crucial. Sir Winston Churchill is well known for his exhortation: “Never, never, never, never give up!” But it is just as important to know “When the horse is dead; dismount!”
Organizations require leaders who can define and articulate the vision. Just as important for the leader is the trait of reading the progress and direction of the vision, knowing when to reevaluate, and perhaps shift the emphasis.
This week think carefully about: 1) How do I set the vision as a leader? 2) What gives me clues about the time to change the vision? 3) Who can I use as a model for visionary leadership?
Words of Wisdom: “In any organization there are those who provide momentum and those who are just along for the ride.”
Wisdom from the Word: “He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7 NET Bible)