Some years ago, I was developing a management programme for a client of mine, and like you do, was looking for some management quotes to help re-inforce some of the messages I wanted to get across. I found one which was an old Afghan proverb that said, "If you think you're leading and no-one is following then you're only taking a walk" which I thought summed up the leadership challenge very nicely.
I'm sure you know by now that I work quite a lot in the construction sector and related businesses and more and more I'm finding that when talking to clients they don't have a vision. Now, in some cases this is no hardship, to be honest and my view of "visions" is that they're only any good if you're going to try and make them happen. In my experience, when some businesses develop these it's because some consultant told them to rather than something that will drive their business and from which they will see a benefit.
Vision, is a word that is badly or over used in many cases. Politicians use it all the time. President Trump used "make America great again" to appeal to the people to vote for him. In the EU Referendum it was used by the Brexiteer’s who wanted to "take back control of our country," where the Remainer’s chose to paint a much darker picture of life outside the EU. Their approach was akin to when you were younger and your parents would say to you "if you don't eat your vegetables then you won't grow up to be big and strong like (insert name of sports star here). It created a negative picture. Maybe if the Remainer’s had created a different picture of life inside the EU, then they may have got the result they wanted.
I suppose what I'm saying is that the vision you create will influence people to follow your lead or just let you take a walk. That's if you have one of course!
In the last few weeks, I've started working with a couple of businesses that have some performance issues. I’m not going to list them here, but in short, they impact on customer service and profitability. The Owner/MD’s have tried different approaches but these are not being embraced and indeed in some cases, are being fought against by people who fear the change and the inspection of their own performance.
The problem is both of these businesses have no vision, so people have little or no understanding of where the organisation is going and their role in helping achieve that. The have no understanding of the issues being faced by the business and why they changes are taking place. They also have no understanding of the potential benefits to all employees if the achievement of the vision is successful. The Owner/MD’s are simply taking a walk.
So our challenge is to create a shared vision that everyone can understand and that is their homework until we meet again. Hopefully, we will develop a vision that is a useful business tool as they will believe in it and motivate and encourage their people to work together to achieve it. If not, it’ll just be another overused term or “nice thing to have.”
Watch this space….