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Business Leadership Requires Vision
By Ray Silverstein

Welcome to the inaugural column of Small Business PRO. In weeks and months ahead, my goal is to provide you with insights and strategies that will help you run your business more successfully... and also make your personal life more rewarding.

It is appropriate to launch this new column with a discussion of the primary tenet of the successful entrepreneur. No, it's not about profit...it's about vision.

Yogi Berra said, " You've got to be careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." A major responsibility of the progressive business leader is to look to the future, to have a picture, dream, purpose, goal - in short, a vision.

Why is a vision important? Studies have found those companies where the vision is shared and is bought into the organization achieve more and are better places to work. These studies have found the second most important criteria employees want of their leader is vision, a dream. This is only second to integrity.

A mission statement is not vision. The mission statement tells what you are. The vision is the goal or destination where you want to go. It is a long-term direction of imagining greater things are ahead. A vision is not a wishful thought, but one that is realistic and will make the company and its employees better in ways than what now exists.

Vision is not planning, It is an intuitive feel of where you want to go, what you want to look like and how you fill feel. Planning is objectives, tactical activities. Planning can be defined by short term results. A vision is sometimes hard to put your arms around, it is a philosophy and mental picture.

Is having vision enough? The answer simply stated is no. The vision must be shared with the organization; it must be bought into by the organization. Most importantly it must be continuously communicated and feedback established to make sure it is understood.

Sandra Kurtzig, founder and chairperson of ASK Computer Systems, said about starting a company, " You have to focus." Vision gives you that focus. Imagine the leader of the company running a projector showing a film. If the film is out of focus and is not clear to the audience who do they get upset with? The person running the projector. The job of the leader is to focus and make sure the image of the vision is clear.

The leader must no only participate and create vision, but also communicate it. The followers do not have any idea of what a leader's visions is until the leader describes it. The picture that is created in their minds is dependent upon the ability to describe the vision.



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