One of the responsibilities charged to those in leadership is having vision for the organization, which for most means knowing which direction they should be moving towards and what will the organization look like when they get there. It can be a scary proposition because it takes you out of your comfort zone, away from what is now and comfortable, and delves into the unknown of what can be and maybe expected to be. So is that something that should be done alone? We at LIA think not. Vision should be shared, from conception to implementation. We subscribe to the Stop, Look, and Listen way of figuring out vision for your organization. Even though vision requires you to engage your imagination, it should be grounded in the knowledge of what is really going on now, who’s doing what and what practices are working and which ones are not. Stop means just that. On a regular basis, get rid of your distractions. Shut the door, turn off the cell phone and hold all regular calls. Turn off the computer too. Now think! Think about what is, what the organizations rules and regulations are, how does that fit with the current direction, how are your people deployed, what are the practices of the organization. Lastly, think about your people, do you know their strengths and weaknesses? Do you have the right people in the right places? Are your teams strong? Is everyone onboard and moving in the same direction? Look requires you to get out of your office and go check out your organization. What are the rhythms of the workplace, is there wasted time, wasted energy, redundancy? This isn’t the usual leadership walkaround where everyone is on their best behavior and you learn little to nothing. This is a regular, focused observation beyond the norm, with the goal of seeing beyond what is, to be able to start imagining what could be.
Listen is the last and most important part of the scenario. You have to hear all the voices in your organization, the loud and soft. Someone out there knows how to do it faster, more efficiently, better. We, most times, miss those voices because we hear but we don’t listen. Listening, really listening to your people is the first step to gaining their trust and if you have their trust, they will tell you what you need to know. Get it? Stop, look and listen. This will be your foundation for vision. Knowing what is, in order to know what will be. Good luck.