Have you ever been in an organization where the leadership vision has become confused or faded? If you have, you’ll have felt the deflation and polarization of members of the organization. Where a clear, potent, and living vision exists, the feeling is completely different. People get fired up, motivated, focused, and passionate about collectively and individually aligning behind that vision.
Where the vision is obscured or not part of the regular conversation, organizations tend to drift – and so do people. Recently I have been part of an organization where that situation occurred. What was fascinating however, was that as well as people drifting and just doing their own thing, there was also a core of people who appeared to dig in even further to the routines around them. These are ‘the stalwarts’ – often great people, but not those who feel the need for a compelling vision. Although I admire the dedication of these people, I do question the motivation behind their efforts. These can revolve around maintenance, elevating elements of the organization that still have life in them, or just sheer dedication to a cause that they will never leave. The difficulty I have with their position, is that things happen around them that they do not see. Instead of having their hearts and minds connected to a compelling vision, their energies are invested in the problems, routines, and maintenance of the enterprise.
In some ways, vision can be messy. Setting ambitious goals, trying new things, taking risks, and investing in the future – these are all elements of vision. You could say that faith has a part to play alongside facts in the outworking of leadership vision. We live in a world of mega organizations, but also one with a far greater number of entrepreneurial enterprises. The latter often have very clear goals and a sharp vision – they should if they are going to rise in significance or even survive. Being a business owner myself, I have a very clear strategy and defined vision. There are times when that vision gets challenged by a drift of client work that doesn’t necessarily fire me up! These are the moments to seize the day! To accept financial reward at the expense of professional fervor is not something that I am prepared to do. I cannot drift with the stalwarts!
What do you do if you realize that the organization you are in is drifting without a clear leadership vision? My first call is to always try and influence from within. There are some people who jump from ship to ship and never engage in the challenges or tough times of trying to build awareness and inspire change. Only when you have tried, tried, and tried again, would I recommend considering alternatives. There are many leaders who have clear vision, and there are many organizations that are filled with passion, energy, and focus. Don’t waste too much time being part of a visionless entity. When you are part of an organization which is vibrant, challenging, and demanding, it will draw the best out of most people who seek to make a difference.
Leaders – re-discover your vision, shake off apathy, make some tough choices, choose inspiration over perspiration, and seize the day!