Imagine for a moment you are the chief executive of an organization. You must have worked quite a long time to get to that level of leadership, spending countless hours at many lower levels in order to rise so high. Now, you’re the one at the rudder. It will be your vision that determines where the organization goes. You get to decide how to steer the organization through difficult times that are sure to come. This allows you the opportunity to lead your constituents to great times by deftly maneuvering the ship, or you could also fail to find calmer waters and prosperous lands. You could very well crash the ship on the rocks.
Most organizations are not like a naval ship that is attempting to survive dangerous waters. Life is often more forgiving that a large iceberg, but not always so. In considering the task of a ship captain, we can remember what it looks like (at least, in the movies) when a captain is giving orders to their crew. Sometimes, these orders are given in in a patient and congenial way because the circumstances allow it. Other times, they are barked in harsh tones, because lives may hang in the balance.
Where there is no vision, the people perish…-Proverbs 29:18
This verse is one that sticks with me any time I see a situation where leadership is needed. It could be a time where I am failing to provide adequate vision to my family about what we are planning to do that evening or how we are hoping to get somewhere on time. Just a moment ago, one of my daughters brought me a Toys-R-Us catalog and asked me if I knew what she wanted for Christmas. When I answered, she wasted no time in showing me the glossy, professional photos in the catalog, explaining why the toy she selected would make her happy. She was communicating her vision to me, so she could have a materially successful Christmas morning.
Think of how the verse from Proverbs 29:18 could apply to your organization. If you’re willing to introspectively consider it, then you can realize the following: failing to communicate your vision to your constituents is your fault. This failure creates more problems to deal with. Soon, it becomes everyone’s problem.
There is a reason the head coach of an NFL team gets paid a crazy amount of money. He has a vision that will lead to success or failure. The organization is too large for him to run every part of it, so he has to trust talented people to lead other talented people in the shared goal of winning football games. Everyone understands the goal (winning football games), but not everyone understands the vision (the nuts and bolts of how it will get accomplished, getting first downs, field goals, touchdowns, etc.)
How this applies
Most of us are leaders in one way or another. Whether it is in our work group, family, or perhaps as the chief executive of a large organization. Consider how your success or failure to communicate your vision to your constituents can lead to the organization’s success or failure. When I consider my own shortcomings, I am ruthless in the application of scrutiny. I take time to consider what could have been executed more successfully. What did I do that contributed to the success or failure of my team? I believe these are important questions to ask. The old adage, “all is well that ends well,” is simply a lazy way to excuse mistakes because success happened. Even 7-2 off-suit beats Aces nearly 11% of the time. Still, I wouldn’t want to go all-in against Aces if I could avoid it.
Going forward, work on sharing your vision with your organization, trust talented people to execute well, and ruthlessly scrutinize the outcome to improve success in the future.