Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don’t Just Create a Vision, Become the Vision

I’m sure you are familiar with Gandhi ‘s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world” and Zig Ziglar’s quote “You must be before you can do”. You may not have realized it but both where zeroing in on what it truly means to be a Harmonic Leader with a vision. With the same sense of responsibility, I believe every leader must “become the vision they want to achieve”. 

Effective leaders must be able to purposefully inspire and energize people to act in a direction towards a goal they understand and believe is worthy and meaningful. Therefore, the Harmonic Leader must possess the ability to create, communicate and become a powerful vision that will not only excite the minds of their followers but inspire them to go "beyond" their current boundaries.

Own the Vision

One of my favorite bible verses states, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18.) I once had an executive tell me that he didn’t want to create a vision because “what if he gets it wrong, he might get fired”. To him it was “safer” to just wing it and embrace whatever happens as something he expected to happen all along. Now don’t get me wrong, he wrote a vision (one of those one-sentence visions that you have to figure out on your own what it means exactly). It was a safe vision because no one understood it and he wasn’t explaining it. If you had to ask, you were the one who needed help, not him. 

Okay, I don’t like to use this term and I don't mean it personally but “what a cop-out”. I think he failed to realize that the vision wasn’t about “him” it was and will always be about “them”.   He failed to realize the “power of a vision” in getting people to do and create things they never dreamed of or thought they had the ability to create. Harmonic Leaders know that they must first possess confidence and a strong belief in their own abilities if they truly want to influence and change the present course and action in the organizations they lead.

Create a “Vision Story”

A Harmonic Leader also needs to practice "idealized influencing" that arouses strong emotions and reactions within the follower that leads the follower to closely identify with the leader. One way this is accomplished is through the creation and communication of a compelling
“vision story”. One leader I know and would label as being a true Harmonic Leader, was very good at crafting visions that captured and motivated the employees to rally behind a common cause and goal that she saw as worthy. For example, in helping the organization emotionally connect with where she wanted to take the organization, she crafted (with the help of her leadership team) a 4 page detailed vision of what the future would be like. She knew the "one sentence" approach was not enough to move the mountain she saw before her.  The vision she created was written as if it was 2 years in the future and a person, while walking around and observing a different kind of organization, was describing in detail everything they saw and experienced from not only the perspective of the employee but of those the employees served.  It was vivid and emotionally captivating. In fact, in order to ensure people could actually see and feel the vision, one exercise that was used when it was rolled out to the teams was to read the vision to them while they closed their eyes and actually envisioned themselves 2 years in the future seeing and hearing everything that was described to them. 

This leader used various motivational speeches and techniques to inspire the organization to emotionally connect to a new future. I knew this leader had truly influenced and transformed the team when not only the goals as planned where achieved but also the organization was known to have a strong attachment to this leader. She not only created the vision but also became the vision in the process. Harmonic leadership involves evoking strong emotions while inspiring others to look at things differently, all of which are proactive influence tactics.

Be Your Greatest Salesperson 

Developing and communicating the vision is just the beginning. The Harmonic Leader knows that they must also be able to continually
"sell the vision", continually convince others to climb on board, stick it out, whether in good times or bad. In other words, they must become the vision they want to achieve in the eyes of those they lead. How the Harmonic Leader not only "frames" but also sees and becomes the voice of the future and the organizations purpose is critical for long-term support. 

This can be illustrated in a story that has been passed down concerning three replies from three bricklayers when asked about their job. When the first bricklayer was asked what job he was doing, he replied, "I am laying bricks, one on top on each other". When the second bricklayer was asked what he was doing he replied, "I am building a great wall". However, when the third bricklayer was asked what he was doing he replied, "I am changing the world! I am building a new gateway to the west. A place where people from all over the world will have an opportunity to come and visit new places, meet new people, make new friends. I am building one of the most advanced travel facilities in the world. Millions of people will benefit from the work I am doing. This airport will change lives!" The difference in how each bricklayer saw their same job is an example of how important it is for the Harmonic Leader to create, communicate and "frame" the future purpose of the organization. The first two bricklayers where just doing their jobs, however, the third bricklayer was inspired and motivated because he was changing the world.

In keeping with the spirit of this blog, I will share with you one of the Universal Laws that support the message of becoming the vision you want to achieve. Enjoy and may your leadership “be” an example for others to follow and ultimately manifest.

The Law of Example

You are the example that others will follow. This law states that any person placed in a position of significance, serves as an “example” for others to follow. Those who serve as an example of greed and power are therefore creators of the tragedies, which they and those who follow them manifest. Those who serve as an example of love and service are therefore creators of the hope and fulfillment, which they and those who follow them manifest. The creative choice of example is totally up to the chooser,


mppatton said...

There is so much truth in all that has been shared in your writing. Am I correct in understanding one of the principles of Harmonic Leadership is to create a vision that is positive and lends itself for the good of all? It is to create a vision that is a selfless act, embracing and including all? If more leaders actually practiced this type of vision or insight, their example would be more than a vision but a coming truth, a truth that improves quality of life within and outside of the work place. It would move from a vision to that which is and in many lives, that which was always hoped to be. But above all the type of vision and example you speak of embraces a greater good and relinquishes the power of one into the sharing of ideas and thoughts of many. This then “creates” from a shared vision a truth that which embraces and empowers all. This is a way of thinking I hope more leaders embrace.

Angela Chammas said...

What a beautiful response. I believe you possess many of the traits of the Harmonic Leader already. Yes, you are correct that it is not just about a vision for a "part" but a vision for the "whole". It is about ensuring that every "ONE" is included and engaged in the journey of creating the vision. Thank you for your response. I look forward to additional comments and insights you can share.

mppatton said...

Thank you. It is my personal goal to be an example of a Harmonic Leader to those I come in contact with at work and church and through my social networking. As you quoted Gandhi's "be the change you want to see in the world", I will be the change I want to see in others in leadership. I refuse to condescend to the level of leadership I see which is the grabbling of power to secure position and fortune, forsaking all. Some even resort to, what I call, professional sabotage to make sure the other person does not get ahead of them. How awesome would it be to share a “new thought” and others tag on making it a ‘greater thought’ that comes to fruition for the good of the whole, from low to high and from the bottom to the top. Purposefully, I started at the lowest level and work up because of the masses. If we do not support our body, the top will ‘topple’ over. Pretty much like what is going on today. If our leaders thought about the philosophy of Harmonic Leadership, then maybe we as a people would not be in the state we are in across the world. I know it’s been said before, but you cannot lead when there is no one to follow. If the bottom falls out, there is no one there! Of course this is leading into another direction so I digress. The saying goes, ‘you must be a good follower, to be a good leader’, well how do you become a good leader if you have never been a follower to see ‘what’s back there’? No, literally you don’t need to be in the shoes of others, but, you do need to be open to new thought, even if it comes from someone else. But more than that, such thought and action allows one to lead with compassion and consideration for others, respecting their contributions and insights as valid. So in getting back to the philosophy or principle of Harmonic Leadership, if I embrace others and their ideas as I would have them mine, lead by example as you stated, then how much better off will everyone all be. As I understand your thought, a harmonic leader recognizes the expertise and others. A harmonic leader also knows there may be many directions to get to the same destination. A harmonic leader knows there are other horizons and other destinations that are beyond what he or she may see. A harmonic leader is open to the possibilities of what in the past was considered impossibility. A harmonic leader is a visionary who recognizes and believes in the discoveries, innovations, and dreams of others! “I allow myself to see into the possibilities of what could be so that it will be!” “I allow myself to see the possibility in the impossibility so that is will manifest!” To say the least, your philosophy, Harmonic Leadership, is thought provoking and I hope contagious!