Category Archives: Values

Crafting Vision, Finding Vision

Given how frequently the word finds its way into discourse in management circles, it is worth considering what vision is and where it actually comes from. What is the genesis of a vibrant and compelling sense of organizational vision?

It is not uncommon to hear people speak about creating or crafting vision. Such sentiments are not inaccurate per se, but it’s important to understand that true vision is less something that is created than it is excavated from within.

Vision is a thing the roots of which can be found in each one of us already, if we take the time to look. It is something that needs to be found rather than created, something to be articulated rather than crafted.

For some leaders, vision lies near the surface. It is apparent and relatively straightforward to identify and articulate. For others, vision lies a bit deeper and must be unearthed though a more sustained process of inquiry, introspection and discovery.

But either way, the search is a crucial step of the process and ingredient of the final product. The process of looking within, that inventory-taking of personal values, motivations and dreams, allows leaders to find what will not only inspire themselves, but others as well.

So what goes into a compelling vision? Marketplace metrics have a role, but rarely are effective organizational visions entirely or even predominantly defined by them. In a similar vein, money is indispensable to organizational functioning, but the pursuit of profit will never, by itself, create enthusiasm and commitment. Employees do not cherish dreams of growing market share or hold within their hearts aspirations of happy shareholders and smiling board members.

To capture the spirit of employees at its most vibrant and vital, then, leaders need to ask themselves not only why their organization and its products and services do exist, but why they should exist. To pull the best from their employees, they need to answer who really cares if their business exists at all, and why the world is better off with it than without it.

At its highest, vision defines an organization by the contributions it makes to society.  Statements of this kind touch on issues of the personal and the human, considerations that speak to a universal longing for a better future. And it is in these terms, therefore, that leaders can most effectively articulate their organization’s most inspiring understanding of itself and its work.

Employees, Donkeys, and Getting Things Done

In some ways, motivation is less complicated than one might imagine. Involving people in decisions that impact them, recognizing the value of their contributions, giving them opportunities to assume responsibility in meaningful ways — study after study has shown the importance of factors like these. Yet countless workplaces fail to supply such sources of motivation.… Continue Reading

Who You Are, Not What You Do

Much of what we think of as the business of business takes place externally. Tangible activities like striking deals, formulating plans and launching initiatives fill our days and constitute the prism through which we view and understand our work life. But business authorities, academics, and thinkers have long suggested that the most fertile field for… Continue Reading

Discipline and the Reflective Life

Consider the word “discipline” for a moment.  In one sense it refers to a subject or a course of study. Within the context of the discipline of reflective leadership, the material to be mastered includes the principles of the human knowledge base and our ability to reflect on how our choices and behaviors, as perceived… Continue Reading

Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Determination

Building reliable habits of personal reflection is not easy. Like mastering any new skill, learning to hang the mirror involves no small amount of setbacks and failure. We might maintain a sense of objectivity for a time, then lose it at a bad turn of events or sharp verbal jab. We might restrain emotional responses… Continue Reading

Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Humility

Few spheres of human activity are more driven by “results” than the world of business. Visible success is the coin of the realm, and confidence, bravado, even self-aggrandizement are pervasive. Humility, then, stands as a somewhat counter-intuitive characteristic of truly outstanding leaders. Humility is certainly one of the more nuanced facets of leadership. In part, this has… Continue Reading

Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Detachment

All of us are attached to particular views of the world and given ways of approaching it. We know that a project is pointless and we have no time for those who think otherwise. We know that a favored employee is a gem, regardless of performance reviews suggesting the contrary. We have our positions and,… Continue Reading

Leadership, Mindfulness, and Meditation

How many times have you been in the car, wrapped in thoughts of the day, and found yourself driving somewhere other than where you intended? Defaulting to familiar routines in the absence of conscious thought has uses in life, not the least enabling us to navigate a highly multitasking world. But “auto piloting” in the… Continue Reading

“In Relationship” : The Forgotten Dimension of Employment

What exactly is a job? A person could work a lifetime without ever explicitly considering such a question. But its importance should not be underestimated, for actions are guided and shaped (as well as constrained and limited) by below-the-line understandings of what one is actually doing day after day. In the most basic formulation, a… Continue Reading

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