Leadership – Vision




Chinese symbols for anticipation, foreknow, expect, think, foresee, anticipate, envisage, bode, previse, vision, second-guess.

Why the Chinese symbols?  I thought I would toss that in for my WDI brothers and sisters still working on Shanghai Disneyland.  By now I assume most of them are fluent in Manderin .

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.” –Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame

“There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.” –James Kouzes and Barry Posner

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” –Jack Welch

“To grasp and hold a vision, that is the very essence of successful leadership—not only on the movie set where I learned it, but everywhere.” — Ronald Reagan

Excerpts from:

Leadership Vision
You Can’t Be a Real Leader Who People Want to Follow without Vision

By Susan M. Heathfield
Human Resources Expert

Leaders have vision. They share a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow. The leadership vision goes beyond your written organizational mission statement and your vision statement.

The vision of leadership permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values and goals of your organization’s leaders..

Why Is Leadership Vision Powerful?

The leadership vision was powerful because the senior managers and leaders believed in the vision and mission.

Not just a statement hanging on a wall, the leadership vision was even more powerful because people lived the leadership vision every single day at work.

When leaders share out a powerful vision and organize and staff the workplace to accomplish it, a powerful dynamic drives employee performance. When leaders walk their talk, it’s a demonstrated motivator for people. When leaders share a strong vision, employees flock to it – even choosing the job in the company over other options.

Employees were not just processing wireless devices to make money for the company owners, they were saving the tiniest babies or providing a safe haven for abused women. They were keeping electronics out of landfills. Can a shared leadership vision get any more powerful than this?

Leadership Vision Fundamentals

Employees often join organizations because of the vision and direction shared when they attend the on-site job interviews. In fact, that is part of the organization’s job when interviewing superior candidates. They need to give the best candidates, the employees that you really want, compelling reasons to choose your organization over another.

The vision may have changed along the way, but as long as the leader continuously shares the vision, employees can adapt and adjust.

Sharing that vision with others in a way that compels them to act is the secret to a successful leadership vision.L

These are the fundamentals necessary for a vision that excites and motivates people to follow the leader. The vision must:

  • Clearly set organizational direction and purpose;
  • Inspire loyalty and caring through the involvement of all employees;
  • Display and reflect the unique strengths, culture, values, beliefs and direction of the organization;
  • Inspire enthusiasm, belief, commitment and excitement in company members;
  • Help employees believe that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their daily work;
  • Be regularly communicated and shared, not just through monthly announcements and reminders at the company meeting, it must permeate all communication at every level of the organization;
  • Serve as the reason courses of action are chosen, people are hired, markets are selected, and products are developed;
  • Challenge people to outdo themselves, to stretch and reach.

Of the many I read, I found this short article to encapsulate the essence of and importance of a solid Leadership Vision.

During my tenure as a Studio Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI),  my Senior Leadership understood the importance of having a clear and communicated Mission and Vision Statements.  As Studio Leaders, we worked together during many offsites to craft these statements in a way that both the Creative and Delivery sides of the organization could embrace and support them.  It was an exhausting process, but nothing compared to the next step of getting the rest of the organization to climb onboard the Vision Train.

At this point in the process, all of Senior Leadership must be in lock step and walk the talk.   By that I mean getting out among  the troops and communicating the  Vision with solidarity, passion and commitment.

WDI has had a history of management turnover   Seems like we had a new leader at the helm  ever seven years or so.   There was also a similar cycle in the Division/Studio Leadership.     With that type of churn it was no surprise that some Imagineers became a bit numb to yet another top down Vision Statement.

This became immediately evident as we rolled out the new mission and vision to out middle managers.   Many had been with WDI a long time and had become harden to change and yet another set of “marching orders”.   In order to gain momentum and move forward we involved the middle managers in the process and launched an extensive communication campaign.  Organizational buy in and support of a leader’s vision is essential to a successful campaign .

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After you have established a vision for your department, communicating it becomes an important final step. James O’Toole, author of Leadership from A to Z , describes this communication in broad terms, “The task of leadership is to communicate clearly and repeatedly the organization’s vision…all with the intent of helping every person involved understand what work needs to be does and why, and what part the individual plays in the overall efforts”.

Communicate the vision often, in both subtle and dramatic ways. Tie the day’s events back to the vision, underscoring its relevance. From internal memos, presentation, or posters, the vision servers a reminder to the team of their purpose and goals. The vision can be incorporated into objective setting and performance review standards as well as interdepartmental projects. These steps serve to energize and direct the group’s actions as stakeholders and advertise your efforts to upper management.

Developing leadership qualities as a manager not only improves the group’s performance, but also equips managers to deal with the demands of business performance. Managers today do not have the luxury of time for in-depth strategy sessions, team-building excursions, and one-on-one personal reviews thanks to an increased virtual work force. Teams are spread across the globe, operating at difference hours, across cultures, all while working against critical deadlines and lofty objectives. Yet taking the time to initiate a small goal like creating a vision is the first step toward creating a better team, a stronger workforce, and entrepreneurial thinkers. This crucial step initiates the beginning of a transformation within yourself and a larger effect on the group you lead.



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