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Vision is Key
By Jeffery R. Hughes
CEO, GAMA International
If you comb the most recent leadership journals and other periodicals, including the GAMA Foundation’s Building High Performance Leadership Teams, one thing becomes abundantly clear: success comes from the core leadership role, which is to create and share a compelling vision.
How do you “rally the troops” when times are tough? How do you celebrate small and big wins with your team? In these cynical times, thinking that people will not respond with purpose to your vision is a red herring. A effective leader is one who empowers his or her people to bring his or her original vision a reality.
This empowerment of people can occur only if there is trust between team leaders and members, and with the formal and informal networks that form the circle of relationships in your environment. Perhaps the most important trust relationship is the one between you and your colleagues — those who work under you and are looking for you to lead them through the process of turning your vision into something real and tangible.
Building High Performance Leadership Teams identifies four key components for organizational success:
Performance, including: the organization’s mission, goals and objectives; performance measures; personal accountability; the ability of the team to analyze and solve problems together; as well as a focus on revenue producing activities at all levels, the employment of balanced work week schedules, and a commitment to health and fitness.
The next is Harmony, which includes: a culture of continuous learning; high impact formal and informal communication to build camaraderie; an organizational climate established on non-negotiable values, norms and standards; a collaborative mindset, behaviors and actions; and a blend of leadership styles that match the moment. Be it authoritative, affinitive, democratic or coaching, the team must have purpose, and individuals must be made to feel as if they have influence in the decisions being made. Again, concrete goals and objectives should exist for everyone, to help keep people informed and focused on what’s important.
The third component is Alignment — the glue that holds performance and harmony in balance. Are processes, policies and procedures up to date, documented and applied with discipline? Are there tools and systems in place to help drive and monitor performance? Is communication intentional to drive culture deep into the organization?I Is all work vision-driven? Finally, is the leadership team “walking the talk” and “talking the walk”?
Finally, there is Trust. When consistently applied, the combination of candor and compassion makes for meaningful, honesty-driven relationships. Equally important to the team are the networks of other stakeholders who play a role in success. These may be vendors, home office associates, professional associations, study group members, and others who can help us make our way through the division or efficiency of labor, provide scalable resources, and offer a boost through interpersonal interdependence. Again, however, these elements can only be accomplished through trust. When it comes to leadership, trust is comprised of a combination of observable and dependable consistency, competence and character.
To achieve vision, one must have clear priorities and clarity of purpose. Faced with competing resources and finite capital, how does one stay focused? One way is to shed the ”non essentials”. While some things we do have temporary value, one must focus on ideas that will create value for colleagues and clients alike going forward. The only way to achieve this is to jettison the things that will not take you to the next level, that may not in fact help you realize your vision. This may include the tasks you are presently managing that can actually be delegated to others in your organization who will in fact accept them as exciting challenges and not merely “more work”.
In the coming weeks, step back and challenge your leadership team by evaluating and possibly reshaping your vision. Assess the extent to which the systems that are driving performance, creating harmony, aligning people, process and systems, and building trust are in working order. You may be able to find fresh and exciting ways to energize your organization and charge your leadership team with a greater purpose of its own.
Building High Performance Leadership Teams, The GAMA Foundation
Are You a Good Boss-Or a Great One? Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback, HBR Jan-Feb 2011
The CEO’s Role in Business Model Reinvention, Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, HBR Jan-Feb 2011
The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies, Fast Company, March 2011