Does Vision Make a Great Leader?

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Many describe a great leader as one who has vision.

A leader who is able effortlessly to conceptualize what strategy and direction is required to meet the competitive and economic challenges of the day.

A leader who can integrate the various pieces of a complicated business puzzle in their mind and create a strategy of what has to be done to achieve success.

There is no question that visioning is an important ingredient of leadership, but it isn’t the characteristic that distinguishes the good leader from the bloody brilliant one.

It’s not what the leader THINKS that guides the organization through tumultuous times to survive and thrive, because thoughts and “brave ideas” are mere postulations of what SHOULD be done.

It’s what the leader DOES that is the deciding factor in whether or not the organization performs at it’s highest level.

The natural ability to execute will always in my view take the top position at the leadership table over visioning and ideation.

Does the leader who is remarkable in the skills of execution require an incredibly insightful vision to succeed?

Nirvana is leader who is both creative and possesses the execution DNA strand.

Breakaway businesses are created amidst this perfect storm. Leaders are, however, rarely good at both.

But success CAN be achieved without amazing visioning. A mediocre plan flawlessly executed can produce far more positive results than an ambitious plan poorly executed. That’s a fact.

So why all the fuss over the power of visioning in creating remarkable leaders?

“The vision” is definitely more sexy than the dirty, messy and inelegant task of getting stuff done in the trenches fighting internal politics and aggressive competitors that’s for sure.

And leadership pundits seem to be able to wrap their heads around ideation skills far more easily than trying to formularize the synchronized “pick and shovel” activities necessary to mobilize imperfect and biased human beings to deliver results.

The truth is (take it from someone who has been there) it is far easier to apply cognitive skills to the art of leadership than the practical operational skills necessary to transform the helium-filled plan into reality.

The application of cognition is orderly; leading implementation is anything but.

If you’re a leader looking to enhance your effectiveness, don’t fuss with getting more productivity from your mind, “get dirty” with your employees who are up to their asses in mud…

Photo Credit: perzonseo Flickr via Compfight cc

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Roy Osing

Roy Osing

Roy Osing (@RoyOsing) is a former executive vice-president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

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