Understanding the Work of Leaders – Strong Advice

It has been almost two decades since the publication of Jim Collins’ famous book ‘Good to Great: why some companies make the leap and others don’t’. Since its publication, major leaders all over the world have hailed it as a landmark research work, that teaches and emphasizes the work of leaders.

View the key lessons from the book

The lessons from Jim Collins’s book, ‘Good to Great: why some companies make the leap and others don’t’ are as relevant 19 years ago as they are now. This is especially true because of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we live in.

Some of the emphasis placed on the work of leaders in creating organizational effectiveness includes a commitment and vigor demonstrated in pursuing a clear and compelling vision that stimulates higher performances. However true that is, the author was quick to point out, this isn’t the full story in creating organizational effectiveness. Jim’s book argued, to become a leader that can withstand the domineering new waves of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in the world, each leader must consciously step up their game to exhibit a level 5 leadership trait, something he describes as the combination of effectively personal humility and professional will.

Leaders more than any other time in history are required to create and deploy compelling visions for their organizations. Ideally not from a place of blind commitment to strategies that won’t last the next wave of volatility but from a place of learning and humility, investing regularly in its people while remaining humble to navigate the new business arena.

This article series will seek to bring you along the journey of how a level 5 leader creates and deploys a compelling vision which doesn’t neglect the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world but in fact embraces it and charts a solid course for the organization worth following.

Combining research with our experience, Strong Advice believes the leadership process involves three comprehensive areas. The leader sets the destination and direction of an organization’s journey – developing the vision. The leader gets the people needed for the journey and makes sure they have everything that is needed for the journey. The leader makes sure that they have an action plan on how to get there and makes sure they actually follow through in order to arrive at their desired destination. Many researchers have identified these processes in different ways but we can summarize as;

  1. Developing a vision, 
  2. Mobilizing elements & mindsets, and
  3. Driving the implementation of the vision

Setting the destination

Setting the destination where leaders want their people/organization to arrive is the most significant part of the leadership process. A leader needs to continually explore and scout out the next great destination for the organization. The destination of the journey is the reason people rally around the leader. People don’t follow individuals unless they want to follow the cause or ideas individuals represent. No one, not even your friends will follow you if you don’t know where you are leading them.  

Clarifying the meaning of the word ‘vision’

The definition of vision has been described by so many different researchers, it becomes easy having a blurred understanding of it! Let’s define vision as a picture of the desired future destination. The power and foundation of leadership are based on a leader with a compelling vision. Without such a vision, there will be no organized institution, no journey, no purpose, and no passion for the hard work that we, as leaders want our teams to accomplish.  

While visionary leadership is mostly about the destination and is not about followers, it certainly involves people being led. A shared vision is what unifies people on a team, and teams within an organization. Apart from a shared vision, there will be no reason for the organization. If the vision is removed, sooner or later, the institution will disintegrate and fall apart. Therefore, it is essential that a leader craft a vision that is big enough to satisfy people’s affinity for significance yet is inclusive enough to resonate with everyone.

Crafting and Deploying a compelling vision  

In reality, most organizations don’t have a compelling vision. A level 5 leader understands the need for a compelling vision that is coupled with humility and professional will. The following actions may help get you started in creating a better one:

1. Redefining your organizations’ vision

2. See the big picture

3. Bounce initiatives and Ideas on trusted Mentors, Mentees and Colleagues

4. Communicate your vision clearly

Practicing these above-mentioned principles, a leader can transform an organization from a routine vision into a compelling one! A vision that will excite! A vision that requires a leader to mobilize for the journey. 

The next series of articles will flesh out the above-mentioned ways of creating and deploying a compelling vision for organizational effectiveness in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.

By Leke Abaniwonda 
Staff at Strong Advice😊 

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