Focus on your vision AND your current reality

Focus on your vision and current realities

Some people focus only on current realities and what’s needed to solve today’s problems. They are primarily concerned about their next steps, looking down at where to place their feet. They move from solving one problem to solving the next, eventually becoming bogged down and demoralized by all of the problems. Their feet get stuck in the mud.

Some people focus only on a vision of the future they desire. They are energized and optimistic about the possibilities, looking forward toward the horizon. They are unaware of the current issues that might trip them and are unrealistic about how to accomplish their vision. Their head is in the clouds.

If you want a life that is about more than just surviving, if you want . . . → Read More: Focus on your vision AND your current reality

Vision and Execution Are Not Sequential


One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is moving from vision to execution as though it’s a linear process. The widely held assumption is they are two ends of a spectrum: Vision is about planning. Execution is about action.

The truth is: Vision requires action to be clarified and refined, and execution requires reflection to be effective.


Most leadership experts subscribe to some variation of these five steps. The model is logical. But in reality, most of us don’t live our lives that way, and most leaders are not rigorous about it, because life doesn’t wait while you are planning. No wonder so many leaders have little patience with the first steps.


When you think of these steps as . . . → Read More: Vision and Execution Are Not Sequential

The Two Faces of Leadership

Two Faces of Leadership

There are two faces of leadership.

One face looks forward – because leadership is about going somewhere.

That face of leadership focuses on questions like:

1. Where are we going?

2. Why? What is the purpose?

3. How will we get there? What are our key strategies?

4. What will guide our journey? What values will guide behavior and decision-making?

The other face of leadership looks back at who’s following – at building organizational capacity and ensuring people have what they need to move forward easily.

That face of leadership focuses on questions like:

1. What skills do people need and how can we support development?

2. What resources do people need? (e.g. . . . → Read More: The Two Faces of Leadership

My Leadership Lessons as Executive Director

Berrett-Koehler Foundation Board of Directors July 2014

Today begins my last week as executive director of the Berrett-Koehler Foundation. This is the second time I’ve done this with an organization—served as executive director during the startup phase—and I’ve learned many lessons along the way.

My involvement began two years ago when Steve Piersanti, president of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, asked me to help create a new organization that would further their mission of helping to create a world that works for all in a way that went beyond what Berrett-Koehler could do as a publisher.

I began by facilitating a design team. After research and serious consideration, we determined the focus would be to support the next generation of leaders in putting into practice the systems-changing ideas and tools that authors were writing about.

. . . → Read More: My Leadership Lessons as Executive Director

Prepare for Creative Tension or It May Cloud Your Vision

Creative Tension

The team was excited and energized. They had created a vision that would lead to the breakthrough they had been looking for.

They set goals and identified next steps, roles and communications. They had a great plan and the means to achieve it.

All set, right?


They fell victim to “creative tension.”

Working toward the vision was not as exciting as the process of creating it. At times it was downright mundane.

It was harder than they had anticipated. It required more work, making adjustments to plans, communications and coordination was more difficult.

Some people began to say the vision wasn’t practical. Others decided they really didn’t want the vision after all.

Soon things on the team returned to normal, and life returned to . . . → Read More: Prepare for Creative Tension or It May Cloud Your Vision

How to Keep Your Team Goals on Track

“It was so much easier this year to set our team goals, now that we have a shared vision,” Chris remarked, reflecting on the visioning process they had recently completed. “We are way ahead of the curve this year!”

Was he right? Maybe …. It depends on whether his team’s systems and practices support their vision.

Do their policies and procedures make getting the job done easier or harder?

A team might start off aligned around a shared vision, but unaligned systems and practices can quickly derail them.

Are team members dependent on each other in order to accomplish certain goals? . . . If so, what communication processes are in place so they can effectively coordinate their efforts?

Do any of the . . . → Read More: How to Keep Your Team Goals on Track

To Create an Enduring Vision, Values Must Support Purpose

“Vision is a clearly articulated, results-oriented picture of a future you intend to create. It is a dream with direction.” In short, vision is a combination of three basic elements: 1) a significant purpose, reason for existence, 2) a clear picture of the future, and 3) the underlying core values.

In my last two posts, I discussed the elements of purpose and picture of the future. This post focuses on the third element – values.

Our values are our deeply held beliefs about what is right and good, evoking standards that we care deeply about. They drive our behaviors and decisions, trigger our emotions, and can fuel a passion that drives commitment, even in the face of obstacles and change.

An engaging vision, one . . . → Read More: To Create an Enduring Vision, Values Must Support Purpose

Create a Vision With Staying Power - Part 2

There are three elements of a compelling vision. In my last blog post, I discussed the first element – having a significant purpose. The second element of a compelling vision is a clear picture of the future.

There is tremendous power in holding a picture in your mind of what you intend to create.

I first became aware of the power of holding a picture of what you want to create after the 1976 Olympics. The Russians walked away with almost all of the gold medals, and people were wondering how they did it. We discovered that they were using a technique called “mental rehearsal” where they imagined practicing the race. I was very curious about this and . . . → Read More: Create a Vision With Staying Power – Part 2

Create a Vision With Staying Power

An Effective Vision Does More Than Simply Show Where You’re Going    

“Vision” is one of the most commonly used and most widely misunderstood terms. There’s a tremendous amount of power in a vision. But unfortunately when the term is not used or understood correctly, we lose out on the opportunity to access the power.

Consider the Apollo Moon Project. It was amazing. They overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles. When President Kennedy articulated the vision to put a man on the moon by 1969, the technology to accomplish it had not even been invented. An exciting decade of focused, Herculean efforts ended in 1969 when two men walked on the moon and returned safely home. It was amazing! …and then it was . . . → Read More: Create a Vision With Staying Power