About Vision

by Ron on February 1, 2012

There is so much in the field of leadership about having a vision, getting clear on your vision, communicating your vision to your followers.  I have had leaders confide in me that they don’t get it.  How are they supposed to get a vision?  Where does it come from?  “I have a goal.  We have objectives we’re aiming to accomplish.  What is this vision thing?”

So here is my contrarian perspective:  Not every leader needs a vision.  Lacking vision doesn’t disqualify you as a leader.  What does?

Leaders who lack a sense of purpose are the dangerous ones.

Vision is a clear picture of the future.  Not everyone has a clear picture of the future.  I think that’s an important thing to say.  If you have a clear vision, you see more or less clearly what you hope will happen.  If you don’t see it, your vision isn’t clear (or you don’t have a vision).

Can you really lead without a vision?  Sure.  The other guy or gal who has a vision might be wrong.  When someone with vision is way off and can’t realize their picture of the future, followers sometimes lose heart.  They will rally around the leader who is competent and reassuring, even if their vision isn’t clear.

Visions can be wrong.  They can be off-target or even fantastical, impossible to realize with current resources or constraints.  Visions can also be dark or evil.  Hitler is often trotted out as an anti-hero or anti-leader, but there is something valuable to notice about the whole phenomenon of the Third Reich (Germany between 1933-1945).  Hitler had a vision for Germany that a large number of Germans bought into, at least the positive, populist and nationalistic parts of it.  It was also a vision that had darker, genocidal aspects to it that has been repudiated over time.  The total impact of the vision was evil and thankfully it was stopped.

Leaders without a sense of purpose are the real problem.  Without a higher purpose, leadership becomes about power and exercising authority.  You gain a platform for projecting selfish projects and petty prejudices.

If you are a leader, get a clear sense of purpose at all costs.  Or get behind someone who has a clear sense of purpose that is elevating.  If you blessed with a clear vision that makes it vivid and alive, so much the better!

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