Our lives are generally divided into components essential to the whole of life. When approaching the subject of leadership, just as there are essential components to life, we find certain components essential to the success of our growth as leaders. There are four essentials to life; water, sun, enzymes and air. These essentials align themselves beautifully to the essentials of leadership.
We have already discussed how water is essential to life. As water supplies the substance of life, so character supplies the very substance of our leadership. Character is the very core of leadership. Character is essential to our development as leaders. However, water / character only provide one essential component.
A second essential to life is the sun. Without the sun, life would be impossible. The sun provides benefits to all life, as well as, all of life. One of the most important benefits is light. Light enables us to see where we are going. I once toured the Cave of the Winds near Colorado Springs. The guide took the group to an area in the cave where the lights were suddenly turned off. I cannot remember ever experiencing anything like that moment. I could not see the movement of my hand in front of my face…with my eyes open. It was frightening. Everyone was afraid to move. The guide said, “if you remain in this type of darkness for 30 days you will go blind and if you remain in this darkness for 90 days, you will go mad.” I learned quickly how light enables us to see our direction.
As essential as the sun is for life, so “vision” is to leadership. The consequences of not having vision can be seen in the words of Solomon, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Pro. 29:18).
In leadership, vision has been defined as “the art of seeing the invisible. In this respect, vision is not just seeing, it is not just “sight.” Instead, vision is insight. It is the ability to see something that only you can see, something that others do not see because this something does not have a physical reality. It is something you see in your mind’s eye, something that exists in your imagination, something that is within yourself” Alain Briot.
The essential nature of vision has been expressed by the President of the University of Notre Dame, Theodore Hesburgh. He said “the very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.”
Based on the ideas presented by Briot and Hesburgh, we can say, leadership vision is more than the ability to know the direction. Vision is knowing the direction and the ability to communicate the direction in such a way others can see, and aspire to achieve in a united effort. Perhaps this explains why Hanz Finzel describes how the “higher one is in leadership, the more their work is about the future.”
Vision sees the future and speaks as if present.
Vision provides purpose and direction.
Vision drives the actions of life.
Vision powers enthusiasm and commitment.
Vision challenges followers to do something great.
Vision is essential to the success of leadership. Describing the essential nature of vision is not the challenge. The challenge is “how” can vision be developed?
1. Developing vision begins with a self-examination. Know who you are and who you want to be.
2. Learn from leaders who have vision. Spend as much time as possible with leaders who have demonstrated vision.
3. Establish a vision that is concrete. Abstract ideas can lead to “fuzzy” leadership.
4. Be committed to give the time and energy to see it through.
5. To complete the process, share it with others. Vision can only be fully realized when others can see it and share in it.