26 comments to The Value of Vision Series – Kouzes and Posner

  • Great article! Great leaders always have strong visions for the future. I love this idea of forward-looking. Leaders always need to envision the future and what they can do now to bring their visions to fruition. Forward-looking leaders should continually be striving to improve to bring their visions to life.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Tagrid. I especially appreciate your point that “leaders should continually be striving to improve bringing their visions to life.” Too many leaders approach visioning as an activity to accomplish, rather than an ongoing process.

  • Jesse – Thank you for instigating this series! Jim and Barry this article was interesting and helpful.

    Interesting to see the how much people value forward thinking in leaders v.s.individual contributors.
    And interesting to see the increased value of forward thinking leaders in Asia, Australia, and Europe.

    My biggest takeaway: To intentionally spend more time reflecting on the future!

  • Very interesting perspective on vision and the future. I think it can be frightening to people to try and imagine where/what their business will look like in the future. Afraid they’ll be wrong, afraid their business will be done, and for colleagues it may be that they’re busy reacting to events and situations.

  • Excellent topic, Jesse…

    It would be interesting to hear the perspective of others with regard to behavioral style / personal values and desire to focus on shaping the future. I believe some people are focused on shaping their future more purposefully than others because their behavioral style / personal values drive them to be future-focused. Is it a skill, a behavioral style “tick”, or both? I think it can be trained / reinforced – yet I believe it is more innate for some people than others.

    Keep rockin’!

  • Jesse, I like the research behind this. It’s very telling. This is valuable info and I look forward to the continuing of the series. Please post it into the #LeadWithGiants Community on Google Plus. Many members expressed interest in following the series.

  • Super article. Seems to me that the challenge to spend time in the future is because they can find little time in the present! More and more I am aware of the value of a practice in MINDFULNESS. One must learn to be still, to quiet the to-do-list and the chatter from Wall Street. Now, attempt to just be silent, and still– 20 minutes will seem like an eternity. Until you can do that in the NOW, finding the future will be a huge stretch.

  • A terrific post, and thanks, Jesse, for making this available here. What I wondered, is how our actual inability to reliably predict the future, should impact the desirability of vision on the part of colleagues. Does the data here reflect an underlying desire for the hero-leader, for example? Should colleagues/followers in fact have as much to say about intention, purpose, meaning, and vision, as the nominal leaders? I think of the more radically-organized firms such as Semco, Gore, and Patagonia, as examples.

    Thanks again!

  • Thank you all for your gracious comments about our post. And thank you Jesse for asking me and Barry to offer our thoughts on The Value of Vision. And to Eileen’s comment that “…the challenge to spend time in the future is because they can find little time in the present,” I would add that our research suggests something similar. The number one reason given by leaders for not doing better at Inspiring a Shared Vision is “I don’t have enough time now to think about the future.” What’s interesting about that comment is that we all have the same 168—the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week—as former Baxter CEO Harry Kramer points out. We all have the exact same amount of time. Why then are some leaders better at envisioning the future? It’s not because they lack the time. It’s in how they use their time, including being mindful about what’s going on right now—within us, around us, and between us. As paradoxical as it might sound, attending to the present one of the ways to access the future.

  • Agree: attending to the present is one way to access the future! To think that the 2-day senior management retreat I just facilitated was started with a mindfulness meditation. While I thought the team would think me crazy, all but one got into it AND for many, it was one of the practices they said they wanted to keep. There’s hope :)

  • Bruce, Thanks for your question and comment. You are always thought-provoking. First of all, the question we ask is this: “What do you look for and admire in a leader, someone whose direction you would willingly follow? And the key word is ‘willingly.'” I would guess that some people may think hero-leader, but after doing this for over 30 years it is my best judgment that that is not what respondents are thinking. They are thinking about someone much closer to them than the mythical hero-leader. Second, we certainly agree that constituents should be part of the process of “envisioning the future.” One of the stories we tell in The Leadership Challenge is from a programs manager in an aerospace company who asked his team for feedback. One of the things they said to him was, “”We want to walk with you as you create the goals and vision so that we all get to the end vision together.” All too often leaders assume that it is solely their responsibility to be the visionaries—and leadership myth promotes that notion. Constituents expect leaders to be forward-looking, but they don’t expect leaders to impose their vision on them or sell their vision to them. They want to be part of envisioning the future. They want their aspirations, hopes and dreams represented. That’s why we call it Inspire a SHARED Vision. The best leaders exemplify this principle.

    • Jim, thank you for your kind words, and for your further reply. I love the phrasing of the aerospace person… “we want to walk with you…” In a Federal agency where I served as Senior Advisor for Process Improvement, survey data showed very high levels of employee commitment to the mission, but very low levels of morale. Prior to my arrival, the #3 in the org started an initiative called “People First,” which addressed issues from leadership development to workplace bullying. The problem was that the #3 frequently sat in and overruled the dialogue at the table. Behind the scenes, the majority referred to the program as “#3 First” and she knew this was happening. I worked diligently to build relationships of engagement and trust as my foundation for influencing change. When the #3 won a prestigious department award for her “People First” initiative, no other employees were invited to the presentation ceremony with the Secretary. When the award was announced at a senior staff meeting I attended, not a single congratulatory remark was offered. That afternoon, in a meeting with me and her assistant, the #3 lost it. She literally started yelling about how “they” (the other managers) “couldn’t do it… But I did it, I made change..I moved the needle…”

      Well, some leaders, no matter the opportunity to lead authentically and openly, can’t overcome the limits of their own egos and fears. Much better to “walk together” creating the vision and results that empower and satisfy all.

  • From the word go, the series whips up the appetite to yearn for the next, and with an underlying confidence, that appetite shall be more than fulfilled!

  • Jesse,

    Thank you so much for bringing Jim and Barry’s timeless wisdom back into focus with this blog series. Eileen has keyed into such an important insight – mindfulness is indeed a gateway to the future – and it can only happen here in the present.

    I look forward to the remainder of the blog posts in this series.

    • Jennifer, Thank you for encouraging my heart! It’s such an honor to contribute to Jesse’s blog. I find it fascinating that by being more in the present we also improve our capacity to see into the future.

  • Great piece. I’d like to add that it’s important to get people in the organization a) engaged in thinking purposefully about the future (i.e., not scared of it), b) that they have to think assertively about making it happen, and c) that it will keep changing no matter how much you plan.

    • Alan, Thank you for your comment. Your point is critically important. Our research shows that the practice of Inspire a Shared Vision is the most difficult for people to learn, and even harder to master. As one leader we interviewed said, “I am my organization’s futures department.” I love that attitude. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone would get on board with that notion? How about asking everyone on our team each month to clip one article, news story, blog, etc., about a future trend that has implications for the work we do. Each month they could write a half-lage summary of what they read and half-page comment about the implications they see. Then we’d all bring the one-page document to a team meeting, talk about all of them, and then ask ourselves: “What does all this tell us? Based on what we’ve heard, what should we do that we’re not now doing? What new products and services could we create that would respond to these possibilities?” There are lots of ways we could support purposely thinking about and assertively making the future happen. And, of course, getting comfortable with the reality that not everything works out as planned.

  • A recent article by Andre van Heerdeen entitled Quo Vadis? is a must read — and it’s directly related to Jesse’s Value of Vision Series. You’ll find it in Rhodes Business School’s online journal, Critical Thought. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/1cYuPZB . Quo Vadis is the Latin phrase for “Where are you going?” and Andre offers some very useful guidelines on answering it for yourself.

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