Thursday, May 28, 2009


The first of the 5 C's of Leadership is Compelling Vision. The best leaders create a bold vision that excites and inspires people. Then, they provide the tools to support the team's needs. Finally, and most importantly, they let go and unleash the talent and creativity in the organization!

Before the leader can inspire others, they need to be passionate about the vision and direction of the organization. Your passion and drive will be contagious and once you inspire people, their energy will be amazing. It takes courage to unleash the talent but great things can happen when you do let go. Now this brings up another issue which is that the 5 C's are interrelated. You need to make sure you have the talent and have invested in their development.

In order to create a compelling vision, you need to state where you are going and why would people want to go there. People crave clarity of direction and want purpose to their work. Give them something worth working for and comfort that they will be rewarded for their efforts and people will achieve great results.

Let's use planning a group vacation as an example. If you are planning a group vacation the first two things you need to decide is where are we going and when. After that, there is much to be done in planning your itinerary, where you will stay, what you will do, where you will visit, how you will get there, what is your budget, etc. But none of that can take place until the where and when questions are answered. Using the vacation example, the leader must tell the team where they are going and when. State the vision and when you expect to get there. This gives some parameters so everyone is on the same page. Now, you might create the vision as part of a team exercise but the leader needs to make the final decision and state it clearly. This also avoids wasting efforts on things that are not consistent with the vision. If the trip is to go to Paris in the springtime, you do not want a team working on how to get to the Alps in the winter.

But the other part of this is making it compelling. Why Paris? Why in May? What will I get to do when we get there? This all needs to be stated from the view of the team, not the leader. Put yourself in their shoes. Answer the what's in it for them question. The leader needs to state the vision in ways that create mental images that arouse their expectations and mobilize the team.

After the vision is clearly stated in a compelling fashion, the team needs to be given lots of freedom on how to achieve the goals. This will continue to fuel the energy to achieve the goal. The environment needs to be one that not only permits creativity and imagination but fosters it and helps it flourish.

Although the leader does need to step back and unleash the talent of the organization, they can not abdicate the role of leader. They still need to continue to provide the resources needed to achieve the goal; reallocate resources as time goes on; and monitor the direction of the plan to make sure that the team is not starting to go off course. It is also the leader's job to reassess at key points in case a course correction is needed. The leader should remove roadblocks for the team to achieve its goals. The team also need refueling from the leader. Over time, the challenges in achieving the vision will drain the team's energy. The leader is the refueling post. You need to sense when they need a boost of energy and how to give it to the team. But they will need refueling. Celebrating milestones along the way is key and also reminds the team of the road map and final destination. The leader also needs to be thinking about the next step in the vision after the team achieves the goal. This ensures that you are always striving for a better future. Finally, the leader will need to make many decisions along the way. A team's energy can be drained very quickly by a leader that delays decisions and does not take action.

In summary,
  • Vision- what and when
  • Compelling- why should I want to work hard to get there
  • Unleash the talent and get out of their way
  • Leader's passion and commitment
  • Provide resources/remove roadblocks
  • Create and sustain energy
  • Take action
Until Next Time,

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