When it comes to doing visionary work really well there is still a lot we have to learn to make this leadership skill the superpower it can be. The good news is that: it is a skill, it can be learned, and it’s one of the most exciting, fun and rewarding parts of being a leader.
So Where Have Things Gone Wrong?
This is question I often ask myself. How is it that this critical aspect of leadership is still so vastly underutilised? Why is it that the incredibly competent and talented executives I work with very often truly struggle with this “vision” piece?
Four Developmental Hurdles I’ve Observed:
- The Knowing-Doing Gap – Creating, sharing and selling a vision – all doing aspects of leadership – are regrettably, not taught very well in most university leadership programmes. Theory, yes. Practice, not so much. Leaving many executives with a significant knowing-doing gap. This gap is then often left unaddressed until there’s a real need to address it like for example putting yourself forward for a senior leadership role.. Stepping into a bigger leadership role will demand a vision from you and unfortunately a lot of very talented people learn this lesson the hard way.
- Creating and Selling an Inspiring Vision – Like Any New Skill Requires Work – You have to create it, it takes time, you may not be sure how to go about it, you could be wrong, you could fail – all of this can feel like very risky business to an already busy executive. This in turn can make it easy to ignore or put on the long finger as you can probably get by without it. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Quite the opposite. If you too are sensing those feelings of “risk” and anxiety arising in your body as you read this, then you’ve most likely bumped into your growth-edge as a leader. This is good news. This is the work that will grow you into your next-level leadership…and isn’t that what you really want? Framing this skills development in a growth-mindset totally changes the game.
- Underestimating the Importance of Visioning For Positioning Your Strategic Acumen – This is a big one, especially for women in leadership roles (a topic that I would like to do more justice to in a separate post). Strategic-thinking skills without a vision is rudderless, and a vision without the strategic smarts to bring it to life will die a quick death. To successfully sell your ideas within and across your organisation you need both – you need to win both hearts and minds. Doing it well, your vision will then underpin everything you do –
- It will be at the core of every meeting you run.
- it will be at the heart of every decision you take.
- It will be the context for every performance conversation you have.
- It will be the framing for every strategy review you lead,
- It will be your unique contribution to the executive leadership team and wider organisation
- It will be the springboard that propels your career forward.
So, yes, it really is important. This is why I call it a superpower. It’s the red thread that will run through everything you do. It is where you will get your power from when you are called upon to make those tough decisions and handle challenging situations.
- Selling Yourself and Your Ideas – This too, can be quite challenging for some people. Very often executives can abandon their ideas at the first critical push-back from senior management and fall into a spiral of second-guessing themselves. Some have forgotten or never realised in the first place that they were in a selling process – you are not just presenting a vision of the future for your area of responsibility, you are selling that vision to a diverse group of stakeholders. There is a very big difference in both of these mindsets and when executives fully grasp this they then do both themselves and their ideas justice.
Can you identify with any of these developmental hurdles?
The Good News
Is that all of these hurdles are surmountable and addressing them will make you a bigger, better and more fulfilled leader. This is why I created our Creative Leadership Programme – I wanted to create a learning experience that addressed all of the above.
A six-month tailored coaching programme that enables talented executives to confidently bring their best ideas to life and make the leadership impact that deep down they know they can.
If you would like to learn more about the programme please get in touch, and if you think this post might be of value to a friend or colleague, please share it with them.
Wishing you well,
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