Insights for Leaders

Start Dreaming

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” — Walt Disney

George Lucas, CEO of Lucasfilm and creator of ”Star Wars” and ”Indiana Jones” series observed: “Dreams are extremely important.  You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.”  American swimmer Michael Phelps, who holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympics believes, “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.

Author Napoleon Hill wrote: “Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.”  Bubba Watson, recent champion of the 2012 Masters commented on his victory, saying: “I never got this far in my dreams.”  Bubba showed us the key is to start dreaming – you can achieve beyond your dreams.

The Bottom Line: Leaders dream, take action to reach their dreams, and know they can achieve beyond their dreams. 

Money Follows Vision

Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.  – Sam Walton

Google co-founder Larry Page articulates a clear and compelling vision for his company: “Basically, our goal is to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful.”

An effective vision simply communicates a desirable future that is a stretch but is also achievableMichael Phelps went to Beijing with a vision of attaining something never done before — winning eight gold medals in the Olympics.

The Bottom Line: Leaders invest the time required to develop a clear and compelling vision of the future.

Dream or Vision?

“Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision just passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”  — Joel Barker

Action differentiates a dream from a vision.  Stephen Case, co-founder of AOL, understood this saying, “A vision without the ability to execute it is a hallucination.”  Jack Welch writes, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” 

For those who struggle with “the vision thing”, take heart.  Speaking of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton admitted, “I had no vision of what I would start.”  While Sam may not have foreseen the fullness of what he would create, you can be sure he had just enough vision and excelled in execution – and he changed the world.

The Bottom Line: Leaders understand that vision must be accompanied by execution and invent the future by emphasizing both.

Achieving Greatness

“Good is the enemy of great.  And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.” — Jim Collins, Good to Great

When Tiger Woods changed his golf swing in 2003, most people criticized because he did not win a major in 2003 or 2004, failing to dominate the game as before.  With yesterday’s five shot win at the British Open, on top of his victory this year at the Masters, he is once again dominating the sport.  Tiger’s “good” golf swing was the enemy of his “great” swing.

As Tiger has demonstrated, what you are doing well may be the barrier to your next breakthrough.  For example, if you are a ”good” leader, you may be blocking the greater growth of your organization by not empowering others to lead with you.  Mario Andretti said it this way, “If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.”

The Bottom Line:  Leaders have the vision and courage to let go of the good in pursuit of what is truly great.

Leaders vs Nonleaders

“To lead you must be a doer.  The way to quickly spot a nonleader is to watch for “should”….The real leader never uses the word “should”.  His or her response to a good suggestion is “Let’s do it.” — Jack Trout (author)

Leaders get things done — they execute.  Veteran consultant, Dr. Ram Charan writes, “Execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today.  Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success.”

An action orientation is a distinguishing mark of a leader.  But action itself does not ensure success.  An action orientation can also be the mark of a nonleader if the action is not aligned with a vision of where you are going.  Vision with action can change the world.

The Bottom Line: Leaders translate big thoughts into concrete action steps – and they execute.

The Power of Vision

“There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long range success than an attractive, worthwhile and achievable vision of the future widely held.” – Burt Nanus, Professor of Management at the University of Southern California

Vision is a destination toward which your organization should aim, a future that is better, more successful, or more desirable than the present.

Vision is a “life or death” proposition. If you’ve got the right vision for your organization, you’ve got a powerful engine that will drive you and your people into the future. If you don’t, you are at best limping along; or, you may be in the process of dying.

Professor Nanus contends that the right vision “is an idea so energizing that it in effect jump-starts the future by calling forth the skills, talents, and resources to make it happen.” At Visionworks, when we help a client “jump-start the future” with a compelling vision, there is an energy and unity that grips the organization and propels it forward.

The Bottom Line: Leaders create the future by unleashing the power of vision.