It’s time for a vision test

One of my favorite Japanese proverbs states:

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”

So is it true that all leaders have vision? Or put another way, can leaders be effective without vision? My instincts suggest that a prerequisite to effective leadership is the ability to create and ignite vision.

A vision is the comprehensive statement that informs the organization what direction they should move and why. Successful companies strive toward a preferred future, not just to a dream! This vision permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values and goals of the organization's leaders. I’ve heard this referred to as "charismatic leadership.”

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard (1999-2005), describe her thoughts on leadership. Among the most insightful truths was a statement made underscoring that “Leadership is not management.” She went on to characterize management as delivering results within known constraints and conditions. On the other hand, leaders articulate a “future state” and they are willing to innovate and experiment with courage to move others toward that goal. She concluded that leadership is about building capability, collaboration and character.

Here are five ideas to create and achieve visionary leadership:

  1. Continually evaluate the business environment and propose a future state.
  2. Express this vision through persuasion and encouragement.
  3. Gain the trust of those you want to share your vision and invite them to help you achieve it.
  4. Increase communication and encourage others to do likewise.
  5. Lead others with confidence and courage to fulfill the vision.

If you find that you are at a fork in the road and you want to demonstrate that you are great leader then choose a path and go. Perhaps a bit unsettling at first, the alternative is to do nothing and this will eventually lead to obsolescence. Keep in mind, the foundation of great leadership is built on the ability to adapt, stay ahead of the curve, and get results.

How has your organization benefited from strong visionary leadership? How did you motivate and inspire others to follow you?


Hamacher Resource Group, Inc. (HRG) Vice President Dave Wendland, a 20+-year retail industry veteran, is a popular presenter and discussion facilitator available to speak at corporate and association events on a variety of retail-related topics. HRG is a research, marketing, and category management firm specializing in consumer healthcare at retail. Product manufacturers, healthcare distributors, retailers, technology partners, and others rely on HRG for strategic and creative solutions to help build their business. Learn more at www.hamacher.com.

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