This is the fourth in a long series of posts that will The 6 Perspectives of Leadership™.
Find the other parts to this series HERE.
This series will lead up to a book-launch planned for the fall of 2018 for my upcoming book “The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership.”
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Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” (credit)
In the model of The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership, the first perspective is this:
Lead from the FRONT with VISION.
It is not an arbitrary “first” perspective – it’s an intentional first. Yogi Berra’s quote explains it. The vision that a leader has for their organization, their team, or even simply themselves, determines all other pieces. It must come first.
Strategy is borne out of vision.
Process is borne from strategy.
Action is the execution of process.
Results are the fruits of action.
But it all begins with VISION.
You have to know where you are going before you take your first step.
Here’s a simple story to show why vision comes first:
My parents ran and owned a bar and grill on the island of Saipan called Round Two. They built the bar into the most popular place on the island. (I told a story about it in Part 1 of this series.)
Their vision was that Round Two was a place where you would be treated like family and served great food and drinks without compromise. My parents got to know every customer. My mother would sit and talk personally with every customer whom she did not already know. They would tell stories and she would listen. She would share her stories with them.
I remember my mother training the cooks to make burgers. It was a process done with exacting consideration of the customers. There was one moment that showed her care in particular; she demanded that lettuce never be pre-cut, shredded, or pre-torn from the head. The cooks needed to grab the lettuce out of the refrigerator and tear each leaf off only at the moment of placing them in the burgers right before serving. The lettuce that left the kitchen would always be fresh, crisp, and never with even the slightest hint of wilt. It added a little bit of labor to the process, but that’s what it took to align with the vision. The same treatment was given to the onions and tomatoes. The buns were grilled with butter and garlic powder so that an extra layer of savory-garlicky-deliciousness was carried with each bite.
This alignment with VISION worked. Success was obvious in many ways, the least of which was monetarily.
After 9 years, they were able to retire and lease the bar to someone else. The lessee kept the name and some of the staff. It was an easy bet for the lessee. They would make a killing! They saw the bar’s books before signing the lease. They saw the well-trained staff. All they had to do was ride the wave.
It didn’t take long for the lessee to realize that the staff was skilled enough to run the place without them. The lessee would check in for a couple of hours a day, say ‘hi’ to few people, take the money to the bank, and enjoy the easy life.
The lessee’s vision was not the same as my parents’. Their vision was “Make as much money as possible with an already successful business.”
They hired some new staff who they could pay less. The drinks got a little smaller. The burgers were slapped together a little faster.
But the profit margin got bigger!
It’s funny though how the size of the margin had an inverse effect on the satisfaction and loyalty of the customers and employees.
Margin was bigger but:
- Customer counts dropped.
- Employees quit and were fired.
- Conditions took a nose-dive.
- Sales took a deeper nose-dive.
Vision determines all the other pieces.
The difference between my parents’ vision and the lessee’s vision meant all the pieces changed.
My parents eventually took the bar back over and it was two years before they were able to fully recover the health and reputation of the business. But they did, with their vision.
Some more great examples of vision
In response to seeing parents sit around bored, waiting for their children in a park, Walt Disney had a vision – one that showed a place where entire families could have fun together. It would be the happiest place on Earth.
Jeff Bezos saw the future. He realized that fulfillment was more important than a legacy brand. He led Amazon to make a deal with Toys ‘R Us. When customers wanted to buy from the Toys ‘R Us website, it would divert them to Amazon and Amazon would fulfill the order. Twenty years later, Amazon is Amazon and Geoffrey has packed his last bag.
Casey Neistat got his first real break with HBO. He made it big time when he was in his twenties. But he became frustrated with the traditional Hollywood experience. Three years ago, he decided that if he carefully edited videos that told a true story every day, he could earn viewers and build a community in “new media.” His YouTube channel now has nearly 10-million viewers; he has more eye-balls watching his content now than he ever did at HBO.
If You Are an Organization’s Leader:
If you are the owner of company, the singular president of an organization, the CEO of your corporation… whichever big kahuna you are, you will lead from the FRONT with VISION differently than a mid-level leader, front-line supervisor, or individual.
The organizational leader is looked to by the organization to set the vision for the entire organization. This is a responsibility that cannot be shirked or delegated.
As the organizational leader, leading from the front with vision, you’ll do a few very specific things:
- Be directly involved in designing a vision and mission statement.
- Be the first visible leader to communicate the vision.
- Hold the organization accountable to the vision. (Organizational leaders will use the vision as a test for decision making.)
- Regularly speak with language that reflects the vision.
If You Are a Mid-level Leader or Front-line Supervisor:
You will lead from the FRONT with VISION by aligning yourself and your team to the vision. What this looks like is:
- Accurately knowing the vision of the organization.
- Communicating your commitment to the vision to all those you lead using self-identifying language. (self-identifying language of commitment sounds like “I believe in what we are doing…,” “I support our vision of…,” “My personal mission aligns with the organization’s mission by…”)
- Including references to the vision when training and coaching.
- Holding yourself and your team accountable to the vision.
If You Are an Individual
You will LEAD YOURSELF.
Here’s the idea – You have a choice in how you go about living your life: you could fly by the seat of your pants, surviving minute by minute without an understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing with no clear idea of what your endgame might be – OR – you could make the decision to discover and determine what you want to achieve in your life, and how you want to live it.
Leading yourself from the front with vision looks like:
- Asking yourself what’s important to you.
- Considering your dreams to be options and possibilities.
- Considering reality with a balance of a sober mind on one side, and grit and determination on the other.
- Making choices about your future that align with 1-3 above.
If you, as a reader, are saying to yourself that this sounds kind of motivational-speakery, yes, I hear it too. But I promise you, this does not come from that place. Leading yourself with vision is the first step in self-coaching. That’s all it is.
The first step is to determine what you want to achieve…
All the other steps are the process of going and achieving it.
Wrapping it up (with more to come)
Next week’s article will take us deeper into The First Perspective – Leading from the FRONT with VISION. This was just your introduction to it. Next week, you’ll get some processes and exercises that can help you to go about the act of leading from the First Perspective.
This was Part 4 in a multi-part series that will teach and explain The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership™.
Follow me to catch the upcoming posts where I explain in greater details what it means to build a foundation and lead from each of the perspectives. Look for upcoming posts on Mondays. Follow my business page, Derek Rey Consulting, LLC to find all of the 6 Perspectives blog posts archived.
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