Thursday, April 28, 2011 · 3:42pm ET


Posted by: Harold Byne

The quality I admire most about my entrepreneur clients, is their capacity to see the vision clearly and articulate it with passion. I love it when their face lights up and they become energized and animated in describing what they envision for the future. I enjoy trying to help them clarify what they see, and build strategy into the process. I love it when seeing becomes believing.

In Andy Andrew’s great book, “The Traveller’s Gift”, David (the lead character in the story) meets up with Christopher Columbus on the Santa Maria, in the midst of that historical voyage to North America. It had been 64 days since the Santa Maria had left Spain. There was no land in sight, and the crew were ready to mutiny. Standing high above the ship in the Crow’s nest, David asks, “Do you know where you are going?” (the first critical question for all leaders) Columbus responds throwing his hand forward, pointing to the western sky, “Yes! Yes! I know where I am going! I am going to a new world!” Columbus sees land, and David sees nothing. It is then that Columbus states, “Today, you will not see land off the bow of my ship. You will see land only by looking into my eyes.”

Herein lies one of the great challenges that all leaders will face and must confront. It is the challenge of getting their followers to believe in the vision, and trust their leadership. They must get their people to commit to a journey toward a vision that is not clear to them. Reflecting on this recently, I thought of some critical realities about this leadership experience …
Seeing the vision is not enough. It may be alive and well in the mind of the leader, but there is a great distance betwen the leader’s mind and the followers grasp. The leader must become skilled at sharing the vision. It will take time, energy, creativity, and repetition, lots of repetition. It is a huge mistake to think you can call a meeting, make a powerpoint presentation, and expect everyone to be clear and committed to the vision.

Sharing the vision is not enough. The presentation of the vision may have been very effective and totally creative. The team may have left with some initial clarity and energy, but there is a critical next step. The vision must become their own. The Leader must translate the vision in such a way, that each person, each role on the team, can see how the vision fits them and how they fit the vision. This will be an ongoing process, that will involve face to face dialogue.

Translating the vision is not enough. Once each member of the team has established clarity of the vision, and how they fit, there is a critical next step. Every person, every piece to the puzzle must be both empowered and held accountable. This can be the most exciting and rewarding part of the process. This is both the test and the thrill of leadership. Nothing compares to the experience of seeing the team coming together, taking ownership of the vision, and holding themselves and each other accountable. At this point you no longer have people “doing their job” and “completing obligatory tasks”, you have partners in vision and fellow voyagers to a destination.

In Andrew’s book, Columbus speaks … “Getting started, getting finished – both ends of a journey require a demonstration of passion. Passion is a product of the heart. Passion is what helps you when you have a great dream. Passion breeds conviction and turns mediocrity into excellence. Your passion will motivate others to join you in pursuit of your dream. With passion you will overcome insurmountale obstacles. You will become unstoppable.”

One of the great challenges for all leaders is the experience of feeling alone in the process. The effort invested and energy expended can leave one doubting the vision causing the passion to dissipate. I can provide a resource that will help. The INTEG Leadership Support Program is a coaching resource designed and developed to help leaders follow through with the vision. I would be thrilled to discuss how this could work for you.

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