The talk of great leaders of our time brings to mention fine personalities like Pastor Dr Mensah Otabil of the International Central Gospel Church, Bishop Dag Heward Mills of the Light House Chapel International, Bishop Charles Agyin Asare of the Perez Chapel, Bishop TD Jakes of the Potter’s House Church and Bishop Oyedepo of the Winners Chapel among other revered ones in the religious circles on one hand and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, the Jeff Bezos of Amazon in business and some distinguished political leaders on the other hand whose vision and their leadership impacts across the globe have been phenomenal deserve a mentioning.
Their leadership impacts and commitment to the path of shaping destinies remains visionary and strategic. Their pursuit of strategic leadership through great vision and insight has empowered hope, raised leaders, liberated and set free economies, organizations and individuals from the doldrums of dependency, shortsightedness and mismanagement. This article seeks to establish the role of vision relative to functional strategic leadership. Let’s talk VISION AS A SIGHT
Indeed, the singular vision to shape the destiny of many generations, raise hopes for many lives both present and for those in the future yet to be born bring into an account the expression of foresight, commitment, focus and determination to cause a shift in mindsets, beliefs, cultures and practices to embrace a new shift in paradigm. Vision as a sight intends to express and address the need for Vision as an imperative commodity upon which all great dreams stand. To have vision is imperative in life. As the bible clearly puts it ‘for lack of vision my people perish’. Then I ask these questions, what makes vision an imperative commodity for human survival? How is one’s ability to see beneficial and crucial to his existence? These are some mind boggling questions I may address in an attempt to bring clarity to the subject matter.
Vision vs Sight
There is a significant difference between Sight and Vision. Sight means the ability to see, whereas vision speaks of the sense or ability of sight. Sight means to register visually, whereas vision means to imagine something as if it were to be true. According to Myles Munroe of the blessed memory, Vision is the source and hope of life. That, the greatest gift ever given to mankind is not the gift of sight but a gift of vision. To him, Sight is a function of the eye and vision, the function of the heart. Profoundly, he admitted that, eyes that look are common but eyes that see are rare and that, nothing noble or noteworthy on earth was ever done without vision. By this foundation and understanding, I speak of vision as the ability to think or plan the future with imagination or wisdom and the faculty or the state of being able to SEE.
From both definitions, one realizes that our ability to SEE is fundamentally critical in life and is consequent to bringing expectations, goals and aspirations into fruition. The very essence of leadership is that there is vision which must be articulated clearly and forcefully on every occasion. The bible records an instruction given to Abraham by God to move out of the Tent to see (He saw stars and as many as they became an imprint of the expected future God wanted to show him). One thing remains obvious here, if he had stayed in the tent, he couldn’t have caught the picture God wanted to show him. It underscores the fact that seeing first is crucial to the fulfilment of both individual, group and organizational dreams, goals and aspirations for there is nothing demoralizing than a leader who cannot articulate why things are done the way it is done because he/she lacks vision.
That notwithstanding, I wish to emphasize that, creative abilities, insightful pursuits, sharpness, innovation, inspiration and discernment constitute offshoots of a great vision. If Vision relates to the perspective of sight (seeing), the question then is how do we see and to what extent has our seeing abilities impacted personal goals, team expectations and organizational results? God created everyone with the potential to be visionary. From different perspectives one can exercise the power of vision to profitably position him/her to remain committed, focused and resolute towards the planning, stay through and achievement of all purposes, ambitions and intentions.
The power of Vision can be exercised through:
The eye by function gives us the ability to see things physically and appreciate the good things around us. Most of our decisions are symptomatic of our seeing ability. The beauty that pictorial impressions bring to us occupies greater space for conclusion and settlement (obviously not bad). But then if our sense of move, influence and appreciation of the subject matter are directed and influenced solely by the power of our eye’s predisposition, then there must be a cause for concern. Nonetheless, the physically challenged by sight (blind) is not disadvantaged for lack of sight to function under this capacity. The obvious truth is, there are other means to see beside the eye for which each individual is blessed to function to full strength.
Indeed, if eyesight refers to how well the eyes capture images, then vision refers to how the brain processes the information coming from the eyes. For example, when looking at an object, your brain may focus on that object while filtering out other things that are within your view.
Hindsight presents another key area of sight the individual can fully operates with. From hindsight, rests our ability to learn from our past mistakes whiles we make an informed decision to change the course for the future. The experience that fire burns, failure to plan is planning to fail and other consequential damages that may results for not observing protocols, guides and procedures inform our decisions and choices. Historical experiences by individuals whether good or bad must necessarily inform, impact and toughen stands to ensure individuals, teams and organizations remain resolute to stay the course and drive to push for the upward goal and objectives. The hindsight experiences contribute largely to individual HABITS (Attitude, Skills and Knowledge) and organizational position for policy guides and practices. It is a great human asset undoubtedly.
Meanwhile, insight also presents to us another seeing opportunity. Having said that, I hold to emphasize that vision without insight is chaotic and dramatically dangerous to team bonding, survival and excellence. The ability to understand the present condition and or situation so as to creatively offer solutions to deepen good practices and cultures on one hand and to create an enabling environment or platform for change towards the set objectives on the other hand is considered insightful (visionary). Understanding provides the platform for engagement, fosters an atmosphere of learning, collaboration and progress. Insight is our appreciation of the subject matter, the situation at hand, the present condition so to do something about it. Sitting on the fence is inimical to vision. It’s only when individuals and organizations align all thoughts and actions through constructive criticisms and positive contributions, gearing at realizing personal dreams, team expectations and organizational goals devoid of mediocrity, maintaining status quo and short-sightedness have deeper root significance for personal, team and organizational breakthroughs.
Is a very powerful tool which is considered pivotal to the quest for making a meaningful sense of where the individual, team and the organization are now from where the direction leads to. It’s a mark of foresight to plan ahead of the journey, make provisions for the drive towards the expected results, to be circumspect in calculation, vigilant and anticipate both good and challenging moments. Impacting headline profits and other performance related demands and imperatives positively for organizations stem from good leadership of teams with clear eye on the ball, remaining committed to the vision by aligning all performances towards the success of a goal or plan else failure.
A popular Chinese proverb goes without saying that, Vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare. We may as a people have the eyes and hearts but cannot see the bad things around us begging for change and good things for improvement, may have encountered or experienced some uncomfortable situations in life but have never changed our actions and inactions, never have taken the trouble to look around us, challenge and change the status quo for want of a better condition and or tried to improve the current state through ideas, creativity and innovation. Such stands are inimical to vision and detrimental to progressiveness. The earnest expectation of the individual, groups and organizations to remain visionary through the buildup of these faculties (foresight, insight, hindsight and eyesight) would in no small way help in curing the dysfunctional behavior of systems and practices many organizations are bedeviled with. Foresight speaks about the future.
Vision speaks to the organization’s purpose and why the organization exist. The vision is translated into a statement, defining and guiding the core reasons and conduct of that organization. It serves as a bridge between the mission and the strategy. In this instance however, leadership vision permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values and goals of the organization. This vision must inspire, attract and affects every employee who engages in living for the core beliefs and values. A shared vision is powerful enough to drive everyone in the organization towards great performance. When leaders walk the talk, it’s a demonstrated motivator for the people. To inspire great leadership vision is to shift focus and attention to challenge people to outdo themselves, to stretch and reach, to clearly set organizational direction and purpose, inspire loyalty, enthusiasm, commitment and excitement through the involvement of all employees. It is equally essential to ensure regular flow of communication across all levels of the organization to enable everyone understand the core mandate (vision). Having said this, how is leadership able to apply strategy to ensure its vision is accomplished?
The role of Vision in strategic Leadership
Research studies admit that, organizations that are guided by coherent and meaningful vision statements perform better in shareholder returns as well as providing unanimity of purpose in imbuing employees with the sense of belonging and identity. A meaningful vision statement again is said to set the base performance and actionable parameters and embody the spirit of the organization to function optimally. It is to emphasize that, effect strategic leaders use vision to convince employees to embrace lofty ambitions and move the organization forward.
Meanwhile, it is the responsibility of leadership to ensure the development of strategies to achieve the vision. Leadership equally relates the strategy process with the vision through the development of a robust culture of learning and the provision of a clear set of values, a defined purpose and goals for the organization. The vision statement plays the critical role by communicating the purpose of the organization to stakeholders, inform the strategic development and direction by setting measurable goals and objectives to gauge the success of the organization’s strategy. The vision statement is a narrower, future-oriented declaration of the organization’s purpose and aspirations.
Understanding the Strategic Leadership Development Process
Effective leadership begins with the individual’s ability to smell, taste, see, hear and touch (use the senses) to scan his/her work environment. Through this effort, leaders anticipate, articulate, align and provide assurance for quality leadership and results. Strategic leadership communicates the essence of where the organization is, what needs to happen, how it should happen and how to keep it happening all the time. Strategic leadership manages individual potential and translate this into a strategic vision for the organization which motivates and persuade others to acquire and embrace same for common pursuit. Strategic leadership ensures the utilization of strategy in the management of employees, systems and performance. Moreover, the potential to influence organizational members to execute organizational change effect and impact results through the creation of organizational structure, effective allocation of resources and the express management of systems and structures to yield the desired results remains the core essence of strategic leadership vision and agenda. Strategic leaders who work to champion this course are normally found in an ambiguous environment on very difficult issues that influence and are influenced by occasions and organizations external to their own.
Moreover, the main objective of strategic leadership to ensure productivity and efficiency of performance is not to be over-emphasized. Similarly, strategic leadership ensures the development of an organizational learning environment where employees can freely follow their own ideas and initiatives. Through effective strategic leadership plans, organizations ensure the greater use of reward and incentive system for encouraging productive and quality employees to show much better performance. Functional strategic leadership is about inventiveness, perception, and planning to assist the individual in realizing his objectives and goals within the context of an organization. More Importantly in the VUCA world, where resources are limited with increasing expectations, limitations of time yet in need of fast decisions, strategic leadership is much desired to make excellent decisions regarding planning and implementation, structuring and processing and the discipline for execution.
Let me conclude the Series by emphasizing that, Vision is all about our ability to see through the mediums (media) espoused above (Eyesight, Hindsight, Insight and Foresight). However, if our ability to see culminates from the power of these concepts above then, there’s no excuse whatsoever as individuals, team and groups not to excel or succumb in our commitments to make incremental progress profitably for our teams and organizations.
I therefore entreat all to develop our capacities to ‘SEE’(Visionary) beyond our natural eyes through constant learning, openness of spirit and remain sensitive to things around us, for what will it profit a man if he can see only with the eye? Only limited progress… To that effect, if your vision is out of focus don’t rely on your sight (eye). And remember, not all eyes that look see.
Discovery…Thinking solutions, shaping visions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The writer is an Executive Director and the Lead Coach in Leadership Development and best Business Management practices for Discovery Leadership Masterclass.
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