Establishing Direction Through Vision

Ever driven in really thick fog? Or made your way around a city without a street map? Ever been in a job that lacked vision & direction?

The importance of vision is in full focus this week as I make the 3,500km road trip from Melbourne to Perth with my family. The newfound respect I have for this vast land and the seemingly endless road is overwhelming. Yesterday we travelled along one of the longest-straightest stretches of road in the country – 149km without a single bend. I was amazed at the mental toll it took trying to maintain concentration and I found myself questioning, “why on earth are we doing this?”Vision, by its true definition, is the state of being able to see or imagine. In order to create a compelling vision for yourself and the people you lead it’s important that you’re clear on your direction. You need to be able to see the end state – the people you’re with, your location, other aspects of your environment – even sounds and feelings.

Without being able to ‘picture’ my destination, the hug of my little brother, a comfortable bed and a home cooked meal, I’m not sure I could make the long journey. The temptation to turn around would be too great. When planning this trip last year my husband and I spoke about what we’d see along the way: the red dirt; the beautiful but unforgiving countryside; and the small towns with their friendly service and willingness to have a conversation with complete strangers. It was this vision that motivated us to drive across country instead of fly.

Many leaders underestimate the power of vision – and the culture of their business generally reflects this. ‘Fish’ (book by Lundin, Paul & Christensen) highlights the absence of vision with one manager becoming aware that her staff remained in their role for only three reasons: salary, security, and benefits. She was concerned with these reasons and asked herself:

  • Do my staff know that the security they cherish might be just an illusion?
  • Do they understand that we will all need to change in order for this company to compete in a rapidly consolidating financial services market?
  • Are they aware that if we don’t change we will eventually find ourselves looking for other employment?

The answer to these questions was a resounding ‘no’. It’s worth challenging that had the manager inspired her team, with a vision of the future, the answers to the above questions may very well have been ‘yes’.

Compare this to Alan Mullaly (Ford Motor Company’s former president and CEO) as an example of a leader who used vision to avoid bankruptcy. He was able to guide Ford out of billions of dollars in losses by focusing on teamwork and accountability. He created a culture of positive leadership with a vision toward moving forward. The results he produced have been labelled “one of the most impressive corporate turnarounds in history”.

Vision is important for strategic planning, helping to set goals & bringing meaning to what you do as a leader and an individual. My vision has kept me moving in the right direction on both a personal and professional front, the question is – has yours?

Shelley Flett is a passionate leader with a keen focus on assisting others to identify their goals and move in a direction to ensure they’re achieved.

She is a Directional Leadership Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Mentor and Speaker who ignites vision and purpose in those she works with.

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Shelley Flett

Shelley Flett

 

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