Your most important activity as a CEO is to create the vision for success. I once worked for a CEO who was brought in to a struggling company and he only lasted 12 months. The team he was brought into manage correlated his vision to "arranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic." Was his vision flawed? If not, then what went wrong? Did he gain trust, agreement, readiness and shared consensus? Was there something wrong with his vision?
Let’s think of some great visionaries and what they had in common. DaVinci, Edison, Einstein, Jefferson, Bell, Zuckerberg, Gates are considered great visionaries. They all focused on the result that their vision would achieve. They all created the vision. They all communicated the vision and they all kept trying. Once they created the vision they were single-minded in the mission and strategies to achieve their vision. Did their vision make them trusted leaders?
Michael Gelb, NY Times best-seller list author and executive coach, writes in his Vision Crafting article (Executive Excellence Magazine, Jan 1996) on leadership techniques to create a winning vision. Gelb lists 8 key words to remember when crafting the vision.
1. “Juicy - inspiring, energizing, alive“
2. “Original - a unique expression of you, your company or team”
3. “Succinct - every word packed with meaning”
4. “Inclusive - reflecting the concerns of all stakeholders”
5. “Positive-active - focused, and affirming”
6. “Memorable - everyone knows it by heart”
7. “Aligned - with universal principles and basic goodness”
8. “Integrated - into everyday behavior”
Gelb goes on to recommend that the CEO use “Mind Mapping” techniques to craft visions, missions, strategies, and value statements, because the CEO must develop the ability to understand patterns of change and see the web of connections that underlie complex systems. Gelb goes on to state:
“Outlining is a reflection of a hierarchical mind-set. Although valuable as a tool for presenting ideas in a formal, orderly fashion, it is useful only after the real thinking has been done.”
The CEO sets the vision and must get buy-in from his colleagues, his team, his investors and the customer. Creating an environment of trust to make it safe to debate and communicate disagreement and agreement will lead the team to readiness to perform and consensus on the outcome. Once the vision buy-in is achieved, the CEO needs to stay on message and keep his team on message so that the strategies that evolve support the vision.
Take a look at Michael Gelb's Mind Mapping Techniques, I did in preparation for this blog. Thanks to Michael Gelb, I am not outlining anymore.