How Leadership Vision Fades


We are in the midst of great social, economic, scientific and political change. Leadership vision is needed, and wanted, more than ever. A leader’s vision sets the tone for how an organization operates—its plans, decisions, responses and attitudes. In the early stages of vision-setting, guiding principles rule the day.

But day-to-day operations are taxing, complicated and require great energy. Complexity can kill an original vision, notes Andy Stanley in Making Vision Stick (Zondervan, 2007). Many leaders lose track of their vision over time and simply hope to keep their heads above water. Their attention is diverted from fundamentals to details. Crises often precipitate this. When vision gets lost in the shuffle, the organization veers off course.

In some cases, leaders see so many opportunities that they dilute their company’s efforts by trying to pursue them all. As they chase too many dreams, their original vision becomes covered with dust. Like a whirling weathervane, an organization that points in too many directions points in no direction at all. When leaders are tempted to take sudden opportunities, they send their people on paths they were never planning to take. Without proper plans and resources in place, chaos renders one’s original vision unrecognizable.

I have also seen some leaders changed by the level of success they achieve. They enjoy the feeling of winning and controlling, and let it go to their heads. Personal rewards are no longer appreciated, but expected. It’s very tempting to rearrange certain aspects of the operation to deliver personal benefits (if not emotional, then certainly financial).

Ultimately, top leaders are responsible to plant the vision and cultivate it throughout the organization. Vision dies when a leader’s support dwindles and goals are no longer emphasized. Leaders must intentionally and consistently keep their vision at the forefront of everyone’s mind, or focus will gradually disappear.

What do you think? How do you keep your vision from fading? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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