After more than 300 posts, this is the first one that I felt compelled to turn into three! When I started writing this, it was only going to be one – The importance of vision. Then, it turned into two – How to create a compelling vision. And now, what I believe to be the final installment – Why do so many leaders fail to turn vision into reality?
Turning vision into reality is the essence of what leaders do. Why then, do so many leader fail at this core responsibility? I’ve listed below my Top 5 Reasons. My encouragement to you is to use this as a self-assessment. It won’t solve all your leadership issues, but it might give a few clues where to begin.
You can’t turn vision into reality if…
#1 …there is no vision. This probably seems like a blinding flash of the obvious. However, I am shocked at the number of men and women in positions of leadership that have no vision. How is this possible? It’s possible when those men and women are managing not leading their organization. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future (a.k.a. Vision).
#2 …people don’t know the vision. This is one of the most frequent stumbling blocks leaders encounter – and they may not even realize it. If the people you lead don’t know the vision, there’s not a prayer it will become reality. Leaders must constantly, even daily, find ways to communicate and reinforce the vision. I’ve written about this on several occasions. Here are two posts that may help: 7 Ways to Help People Catch Your Vision and Vision – More Than Words.
#3 …you don’t live like it matters. People always watch the leader. One of the things they’re looking for are clues to what’s important. We have a huge opportunity to reinforce or undermine the vision through our actions. We will lose the trust, credibility and influence required to turn a vision into reality if we don’t walk the talk.
#4 …if you don’t resource the vision. A vision is like a human being – if you don’t feed them, they die. Many visions are noble and inspiring until it’s time to allocate the budget. The vision, by definition is about the future. The problem is, without strong leadership, the present will always push out the future. If you won’t invest in the future, you lose the privilege of creating it.
#5 …if you don’t celebrate progress. The most effective visions are those that require energy and effort over time – often, a long time. The realization of the vision may be years, or even decades, in the future. That’s a lot of delayed gratification. Most people are not wired that way. If we can find legitimate ways to praise progress, it will fuel the fire in people’s hearts and minds for the vision. It will encourage them to stay the course. All of us as leaders need to make time to say, “Congratulations! We’re making progress!”
In the midst of your day-to-day challenges and activities, don’t forget, your JOB is to create a preferred future. You are paid to turn vision into reality.[GLS_Shield]
How are you doing on your number one responsibility?