|Becoming a Visionary Leader at Any Organizational Level|
a unifying vision for their organizations is a fundamental skill for leaders. However,
building that vision has become more associated with top-level leadership than with
directors, managers and others throughout the organization. Consider these
critical vision-creation opportunities, each of which can propel your
Helping the CEO Shape the
senior leaders know they are missing critical information as they are typically
removed from many customer experiences and operational realities. Being a
conduit of the insights and experiences of others who will be touched by the
work can help senior executives improve that sense of connection. Further, raising
your hand to volunteer your own perspective in collective problem-solving
opportunities helps you develop your own vision-creation abilities.
Translating the Company
Vision to Make it Relevant for Your Team
if you do not have the chance to help shape early drafts of your company’s
vision, if you are a leader at any level, you will likely be directed to work
with your team to translate that vision. Though on a smaller scale, this in
itself is "vision crafting" and it will benefit from the same kind of
broader perspective senior leaders themselves will want to seek. Even if you
are simply “translating” vision from the upper part of the organization, take
some time to solicit ideas from other parts of the company that also have a
stake in your unit’s performance aspirations, being sure to crosscheck your
translation with those senior leaders guiding the overall vision.
Catalyzing Your Own
a new company vision does not begin in the C-suite, but instead bubbles up from
lower-level leaders already using it to drive innovation and change in their
own units. Your organization may not be ready for—or even sympathetic
to—bottom-up vision development. However, the need for continual innovation in
today’s operating climate may give you the opportunity to promote new ideas
from your own local experiences that can demonstrate potential for broader
growth and even reinvention in your company.
Getting Yourself Into the
are a few tips to position yourself for vision-building moments:
a clear idea on what a vision is and why it matters. Do not confuse vision (an
aspirational picture of future success) with mission (why an organization
exists), values (the principles and moral beliefs by which the organization
chooses to operate) or strategy (the decisions about where and how to compete
that bring a vision to life).
for opportunities to contribute. Contribute to the vision-work underway by
other leaders. Translate an agreed upon enterprise vision down to the unit you
are leading, or focus the work of your team on a local or regional vision.
Catalyze innovative change for the organization based on some front-line
innovation in which you are involved.
you find a vision-building opportunity, do not do all the deciding alone. Just
as a senior leader might benefit from seeking your contributions to a major
corporate vision, share the process with others working with you in any of your
own vision-building. It will sharpen your collaboration skills as well.
by watching or studying how others go about the vision-building process. Talk
to other leaders about visions they have developed to understand how and why
those visions turned out the way they did. Study visions of companies
documented in the business press or learn from partners or clients about the
visions they have for their organizations. You will better understand what
makes for successful vision-building, which you can then bring to the next
opportunity in your own organization.
developing a vision for an organization sets the stage for strategy and higher
performance, it will always be seen as an essential capability for top leaders.
However, this does not mean that vision is always above your paygrade. Visioning
requires practice, and there is no better way to get that practice than by
building your craft through smaller or sudden opportunities to make a
contribution that comes your way.
Don't Have to Be CEO to Be a Visionary Leader," by Ron Ashkenas
and Brook Manville, Harvard Business
Review, April 4, 2019.