How can leaders at any level, especially at executive or board level, expect to get the best from their people and business or organisation without communicating clearly their vision and direction to their staff? It is not unknown for Sampson Hall to be commissioned to deliver a leadership development programme for a group of middle and senior leaders to find the very people we are helping are being inadvertently ‘hamstrung’ by a lack of vision and clear direction from their executive. This is particularly frustrating for us as we see individuals developing their leadership capabilities and becoming more able to fulfill their potential yet inadvertently prevented from doing so by the very people who have invested in providing the training.

How does vision work and why is it so important? If a leader has not got a clear picture of exactly what it is they are trying to achieve then how can they expect to know when it has been achieved? If a leader has a clear picture of their desired end state but the people they are depending upon to produce that end state do not know what it looks like then how will they know what it is they are trying to deliver? Would you set off to your work place in a morning without knowing where your work place is and what it looks like? A leader without vision is like an orienteer without a map; they are likely to run round in circles getting nowhere fast whilst their competitors get to where they want to be before them.

Not only must a workforce know and understand what is they are trying and expected to achieve but also how to do so. This is why clear, concise and well articulated direction is important. Woolly direction leads to uncertainty and ineffective action which leads to dysfunction and, ultimately, in failure to achieve the desired outcomes. Undoubtedly, when you set off to your workplace in the morning you know by which route you are going and how you are going to get there. A leader without direction is like an orienteer without a compass; they can only follow their competitors around the course and finish the race in last place.

Having a clear vision is only the start. If a vision is to be realised then it must be effectively communicated in a way which has meaning and can be understood by those who need to know what it is. Good direction need not necessarily be detailed but it must be clear and understood by those requiring direction. Also, there is little point in a leader giving direction which is not resourced; a plan must be deliverable and seen to be so otherwise it is no more than a work of fiction which will fail to yield the desired results. Good leadership is like good orienteering. Make sure you have the right map for the ground you are on, acquire and use the necessary equipment correctly to orienteer your way most efficiently and effectively through the course, quicker than your competitors to win the race.

Share this post