• Phil Cole

Vision and the Loneliness of Leadership

Listen to this idea on Episode 39 of Short Takes or on your favorite podcast app.


Vision is powerful. It explains why the members of the group do their work, and why it matters that they do it well.


But there is something else important about vision: the lack of a vision causes us pain.


This is because vision describes two things – the two expressions of vision. The first is the meaningful change, or the outcome of all of the group’s work. This is a goal. The second is the logical, planned process that makes that goal become real. This is the way we know that the goal is achievable, and how that happens.


We as human beings need that direction so that we can make sense of the work that we do. When we have that meaning, we can be excellent. When we don’t have it, we feel terror. This is true of both our people, the members of the group, and of ourselves as leaders.


Our role as leaders of the group is to give this to the members of the group. We create the story of vision, and we make sure each person in the group has this understanding. This allows us to take away the fear and doubt created by a lack of vision. We show the members of the group how their work is important, and they believe us.


But we as leaders do not have someone to tell us that our work is important. We have to create this understanding in ourselves, and we have to believe in it. We lose sight of the goal, or we cannot see the steps to get there. We must have this understanding and belief to succeed, but we – ourselves – are the place where this story comes from.


We can see this happening when we waver in our ability to express the fifth of the factors of vision, our belief. When this happens, we need to go back to our own story and our personal understanding of vision. We need to remind ourselves of the story, so that we can move forward over the hurdles of life to accomplish what is important and meaningful. We may not have all of the answers, but we need to tell the story.


Leadership comes with responsibility, and it can be lonely. Vision is a powerful tool to create excellence, but when we lose sight of it ourselves, we suffer. Do not neglect your personal story of vision, or the ways that you see this story in your life.


Learn more about the five factors and the story of vision in our new VISION CHALLENGE, a six-day email introduction. Or get your hands on a copy of Redefining Leadership: A Practitioner's Guide for all the details.

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