Effective Leaders have Vision, but what IS “Vision”?!

Many people believe that leaders carry the inherent characteristic of being “visionary”. This is true, but the concept of vision is “out there”, esoteric, and can be hard to grasp.

So, how can you “teach” vision? Aren’t visionary leaders somehow “special” in that regard?

(If you’ve been part of a Group Dynamic leadership workshop, forgive this content. This is an exercise that you’ve already done, so it may be redundant for you, but feel free to pass this on to someone who you think needs it!)

OK, let’s make this concept of vision easier, more concrete, more actionable, and more “learn-able”.

First, a working definition of “vision” as it applies to leaders:

Vision is a Two-Fold Ability to:

1) Accurately see the current reality of your organization/situation.

2) Creatively see the possibilities for the future of your organization/situation.

Many years ago, I learned and adapted the following simple exercise from Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.

Step One: Make 2 lists of 3 items

1)  List three words or phrases that describe your organization as it IS NOW, but that you wish were NOT true.

2)  List three words or phrases that you WISH would describe your organization, but ARE NOT true now.

For example, here is how I would describe an organization that I used to be associated with:

1) [Current reality, not desirable] Pessimistic, stressed people, culture of fear.

2) [Ideal reality, what’s desired] Forward-thinking, celebratory, high-achieving.

Step Two: Ask yourself – Which of these six words/phrases describes me?

Take an honest look in the mirror, and ask yourself which of those six words or phrases accurately describes you in the CURRENT situation.

Write down your answer.

In my example, I would say: Honestly, I was pessimistic, and one of the stressed people, but I would also hope that I was forward-thinking.

Step Three: Set a new goal for yourself

In this step, set a goal to either eliminate one of the undesirables, or take on one of the desirables.

In my example: I could have made a goal for myself to cease any pessimistic behaviors — to never again say anything about impending trouble, or the gloom of the current state.

By adhering to this goal, you become part of the solution, not part of the problem.

AND, you take an important step in developing your own concept of vision — the ability to honestly assess the current state, and imaginatively picture the ideal state.

What if everyone in your business/organization/team did this exercise?

2 Responses

  1. Michael Albarracin
    | Reply

    Wow! How did I miss this article? I do not recall doing a similar exercise. Talk about a reality check of how the leader really is responsible for the atmosphere in a group.

  2. Alan Feirer
    | Reply

    Thanks, Michael — if you’re willing, you could someday share what you did for yourself with the exercise… That could be a great model and help others out…

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