It goes without saying that leaders should have vision. They’re the ones who are supposed to inspire others with a vision of what can be achieved, a vision of a better reality and a vision of how to get to that better reality.
But, while most political and business leaders have some or other vision, the vision of many of them often ends well short of where it should end.
The Oxford dictionary defines vision as, among other things, “The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we had political and business leaders who planned the future with imagination and wisdom! What a different country, what a different world this would be …
Because the future of a company, a community or a country is determined by the vision of its leader/s, it would be a worthwhile exercise to carefully assess the vision of anyone being considered for a leadership position.
Here are a few thoughts to consider when assessing a leader’s vision.
1 The quality of the vision is determined by the quality of the person
Many years ago, in my first year of work, in conversation with the head of our organisation about people and their potential, he made an observation that, “You can’t make a race horse out of a cart horse.”
The “everybody is a leader” brigade might challenge his statement on the basis that people have unlimited potential and that they should be able to aim for any position they wish. Reality however shows us that we are not all suited for the same positions.
The point is, not every leader has the capacity to conceptualise a vision that will benefit a nation. Small thinkers will have a small vision and, by the same token, great thinkers will have a great vision (not many of those around lately). It’s important to be aware that a leader will not lead you further than their vision enables them to. If a leader’s vision ends at the company gates, that’s how far they will lead their people. They will not have a vision that includes anybody else beyond the company gates. And leadership today involves having vision that includes a lot more than just the company.
2 The morality of a vision is determined by the morality of the person
Good leaders will have a good vision and selfish people will have a selfish vision (any names come to mind?). Of course, selfish leaders will not necessarily reveal their selfish vision. It’s therefore up to those employing them to examine their track record to determine if they are genuine. Perform this test on a number of our political leaders and you will realise that they should never have been selected for leadership. Their track records were all ignored for various reasons.
If vision is about the future, one needs to ask: does the future exist? There are two answers to this question. The first answer is, “No,” because the future exists only as infinite possibility. On the other hand, the answer is also, “Yes,” because the future exists in the hearts and minds of our leaders and, naturally, in their vision for the future. It is that vision that will emerge as our next reality.
Anyone can talk about a big vision so it’s important to drill down to understand how a leader intends to turn their vision into reality. Having a vision is therefore not enough. Leaders also need to have a clear idea of how they will achieve their vision, otherwise the vision will remain just that – a vision, never a reality. Good leaders will therefore be able to deploy the right resources in attaining the vision.
Assess potential leaders’ vision very carefully because it is in their vision that our future lies – the future to which they will be taking their company, community or country.
If you are a leader, examine your vision carefully. Then examine the plan you have for the future. One without the other is pretty useless. As you develop a clear vision and an equally clear plan to make your vision a reality, you will help people experience a better reality.