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December 2006
Published by Geoff Kelly, Kelly Strategic Influence

Wisdom to lead minds:

"There is a big difference between being an organization with a vision statement
and becoming a truly visionary organization.”

Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great

Who Else Needs a Vision Statement that Works?

With 2007 about to start do you have a vision that will attract the support you need for your most important ideas and projects?

A leader's personal vision, or worthy ideal, is one of their most important assets and this newsletter will cover that in a future issue. This issue looks at another crucial aspect of vision - how a leader or organisation articulates a broader vision to attract support from others.

Too often you see leaders or their organisations compile their visions on self-centred statements such as the following:

  • “To be a world-class supplier of....”
  • “To be respected as market leaders in...”
  • “To create a corporate culture centred around…”
  • “To have a reputation second to none among…"
  • “The communities in which we operate value our citizenship...”
  • “To be the best in the eyes of our customers, staff, and the public...”

In contrast those leaders with visions that focus on something larger than themselves are more interesting, appealing and compelling. Here are four examples:

President John F Kennedy: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth." And his vision inspired the people and companies of the USA to achieve what had previously seemed far off. They succeeded Neil Armstrong touched his boot on the Moon in 1969, and returned safely.

Microsoft Corporation: "Empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device." Bill Gates and his colleagues became rich as a by-product of getting people to buy-in to an earlier vision to put a personal computer in every home, running Microsoft software. By helping others, they would make their financial goals. And most people bought that. Microsoft's updated vision recognises that personal computers are not the only path in future, but its focus still is upon others and not simply on itself.

Dr Martin Luther King, Jnr: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dr King's Dream is still a journey almost 50 years after his murder, but still inspiring people of all creeds to pursue it.

NEC Corporation: Create an iSociety where the networks around people “promote an exchange of information and knowledge for the achievement of a new creativity in society.” Again, this is not only about a better NEC but about something to benefit others too.

So what is the point? Self-centred visions don't work. Those centred on something larger at least have a chance to live and grow.

The only reason a leader would shape a vision statement is to earn the support he or she needs from others to act on a compelling insight they have for their organisation or idea. They may need to attract this support from both inside and outside their membership groups. For example, Microsoft's vision needs to attract support from not only employees, but also suppliers, customers, regulators and others.

Self-centred visions simply don't attract anyone bar their authors. Their authors like them because the visions are all about them. However, they don't excite anyone else. Nor do they lead to others taking action to support them. In contrast, visions focused on benefiting others beyond the leadership group or organisation more properly reflect how the world works.

People turn off to those who talk about everything in terms of themselves. Imagine you go to a dealership to buy a new car. Would the sales representative impress you if he or she told you the dealership aimed to be the most respected in town? Or that they wanted to have the highest return on investment of anyone in the industry, or that they wanted to have the happiest and most loyal staff?

Yet that is what most corporate visions do. Their buzzwords echo the emptiness of their meaning for anyone except those who wrote them, and at best are simply ignored by others. Often, however, others presume the authors are out of touch, self-important, or double-dipped when the ego genes were handed out.

You cannot consistently build strong relationships, create and hold new customers, or get others interested in and supporting your ideas by telling others how great you intend to become.

One of the great principles of business and of life is that you must give value first. So leaders who want to sell others on a product, service or idea must start with what value they aspire to give to others. Their vision statements are clear signals of their leadership impact.

So the key question to ask in considering what your vision should include is “With my product, service or idea, what does the world need?” Answer that question well and you are on the way to articulating a vision that will attract the support you need.

The key is not to aspire only to be the best, but to aspire to do the best for the world you touch.

How does your vision measure up?

More next month...


Geoff Kelly works with leaders who are frustrated that others don't fully support their ideas and strategies. He mainly works with corporate leaders around the world, but also leaders in Government and Not for Profit. He is also a popular speaker on this and related subjects. See www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au, email [email protected] or call +613 9678 9218 for more information


© 2006 Geoff Kelly All rights reserved.
You are free to use material from the Leading Minds eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read: "By Geoff Kelly of Kelly Strategic Influence. Please visit Geoff's web site at www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au for additional articles and resources on earning support for your ideas and strategies." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)



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