I was sitting with a friend recently who was waxing lyrical about the rugby world cup. He admitted that he was one of the many people who had said ‘it will be a waste of money’ when it was announced a few years ago, but now that it is here and he can see it in the flesh he thinks it is something ‘New Zealand can be proud of’.
The word ‘Vision’ springs to mind.
In 2010 during the football world cup in South Africa I saw a report about the new stadium in Cape Town. Its inception was widely contested by the locals who thought it would spoil the view of Table Mountain and be an unnecessary eyesore. Once it was built, and full of supporters, the opinions changed as it was seen as a spectacular statement for the city.
Its good to be consultative as a leader. To understand what the mood of your staff is, to engage them on the journey, to involve them in the solutions to the business challenges.
However most people, when asked their view on things, will tend to the cautious, the pessimistic or a preference for stability. These characteristics are useful in many jobs, that rely on these tendencies, but when it comes to taking an organisation to a completely different place, that is where leaders should come in to their own.
True leadership is needed to express a vision for an organisation that is bold and challenging and potentially game-breaking. Apple, Xerox, Amazon, Google are names that we treat as mainstream now but at one time they challenged the existing order of things.
To do so takes not only a clear vision but the strength to hold to that vision when challenged and to carry your people with you.
Redesigning your business is not the same as the early start-up phase of Apple , etc. You will be surrounded by people who are used to ‘the way we do thing’ and if your organisation has been successful doing it that way, then most will have real difficulty accepting a change in the way things are done.
It takes vision.
The world is changing again I am sure. Technology has driven change for so long, but now the world looks like it is going through a phase of financial uncertainty, where the ‘way we have done things’ will be redesigned. In the future your business wont be able to just sit out bad times. The future will reward those who have the vision to redesign their business rapidly and sustainably. Old fashioned cutting of headcount in the hope you can rehire and spend later wont work when the recession cycle is shorter. Stopping your investment will have a more crippling effect when others are better equipped and better trained whatever the cycle. Change will need to be different. Evolutionary, rapidly, routinely, with agility. The way you do things.
It will take vision.