Leadership especially in a business environment is a very complex subject and many wise minds have tried to formalise the concept.
Perhaps one of the more significant factors that go to make up a leader is the ability to visualise the future for the business.
Let me make a point very clear at this stage.
Visualising the future for the business is NOT predicting the future. It is a matter if looking at the future and deciding what we intend the business to look like at a specific time ahead.
Following that the next question to ask is "If that is where we are going, what will we need to do to achieve it?"
Visualising what the business will look like in, say, five years time demands a high level of imagination as well as domain knowledge in the business.
It is often said that leaders must be visionaries, that they are the ones who know where they are going, what it will look like when they get there and what is needed to achieve it.
That may be the case but that could imply that the outcome will be purely an expression if the leader and his/her interests and desires, possibly to the detriment of the team ethos.
Far better, it seems to me, is to make the visualising exercise a team effort so that buy in is much more likely.
One of my Vistage CEO peer group members has gone through that exercise with remarkable results.
They decided on a five-year forward view of the business and with great presence, called it the 20/20 Vision.
Who should be included in the team? Certainly the operational management team and it is a good idea to include some of the young talent in the business. After all they are the ones more likely to be implementing any change in the future.
So now here we are in 2015 on a five vision up to the year 2020. The first activity is to review where we are currently in some detail so that we have a strong starting point.
Coverage should comprise all the obvious financials together with current products and services, existing people resources, locations and so on.
Having done that the next activity is probably the most interesting and challenging.
At this stage we start the visualisation process and this means a lot of thought and imagination will be called for.
The emphasis must be on actually visualising what the business will look like in 2020, in what premises and with what sort of staffing.
In kinesiology terms members of the team need to have that visual ability and not everyone is comfortable in that role.
This does not imply that only people with visual capacity can contribute. Others who may be more comfortable with words and descriptions will also add value as the task progresses.
It is a matter of good debate among the team. The leader must not allow any negativity at all and all thoughts and suggestions must be given equal value.
When all the ideas are in is the time for selection of those that seem to offer the greatest potential.
During the visualisation process ideas for new products/services will have emerged and it is always possible that they would be a major part of the growth potential.
Systems like this can bring out a raft of great innovative ideas and that is another reason for setting up the team.
Crucially the results must be communicated throughout the business so that everyone can see the value and importantly their place in achieving it.
20/20 vision is a great strap line and should be used at all times to tell the people where we are going. In fact it's the brand of the future of the business.
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