Most leaders didn’t start out to become leaders; they started out trying to make a difference in something. In my last blog, I explored how we can create greater impact by maximizing our “podium.” Wait, isn’t leadership about getting the job done—and generating results? Yes, and not just status quo results or more of the same. Not just results with a small r, but Results that happen because the performances of many people are amplified over time to create a cascade of change. Taking all of this into account, the real question in my mind is: “How will things be different with your leadership?”
Your vision is foundational to making a difference. When you look around your organization right now, where does it need to go? Can you articulate a very clear change that needs to be made? Can you engage the right people to get behind it? Can you target a very clear innovation that needs to happen to make that change come to fruition? Can you organize a group of people to achieve that change?
Vision is key to leadership, and vision starts by understanding context, your organization, and yourself. It’s important to understand who you are. Why do you want a leadership role? What about you is going to create that cascade of people doing the right things to achieve something bigger than themselves?
Well, first of all, it isn’t going to happen overnight. In fact, I would argue that you need to go slowly in order to go fast. When you spend time putting the vision, the right resources, the change required for the vision, and the right organizational structure in place, you will ultimately go faster.
Why, you ask? Because leadership begins with self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-efficacy. Do you understand enough about your internal vision to articulate what you want to have happen? What difference needs to be made to make things more positive? Can you clearly articulate that difference? Can you say it in a way that inspires others to think, “Hey, I want to achieve that too!”
Leadership is not about perks and rewards for oneself. Leadership is about others.
One of my favorite stories of leadership is about a small-town automobile mechanic with three children. He saw a need for the town to build a playground. As he worked on customer’s cars, he talked to them, one by one, about his vision for a town playground. He asked for their help. He asked for their votes. He asked for their money. He got a pretty good segment of the community excited about a town playground. Together, that small army of people excited the rest of the town into building a first class playground for “their kids.”
Your purpose is your vision
The dictionary defines vision as “the power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.” Articulating a clear, simple, inclusive vision has to start with an understanding of what you want to contribute to your team, your function, your organization, your community, your world. And remember, it’s not about you. It just starts with you!