Developing a vision for your future

By JOHNNY CARCIOPPOLO / Community Columnist

One quality that all leaders have in common is that they have a clear vision for the future.

This is something that only the leader can do.

Excellent leaders take the time to think through and develop a clear picture of where they want the company to be in one, three and five years.

Leaders can communicate this vision in such a way that others “buy in” and eventually see the vision as belonging to them.

It is the vision of the future possibilities, of what can be, that arouses emotion and motivates people to give of their best. The most powerful vision is always described in terms of values and mission rather than described in terms of money. Of course, money is important, but the commitment to “be the best in the business” is far more exciting.

To encourage others, to instill confidence in them, to help them to perform at their best requires first that you lead by example.

A study at Stanford Business School examined the qualities that companies look for in promoting young managers toward senior executive positions, especially the position of Chief Executive Officer.

The study concluded that there were two important qualities required for great success in leadership.

The first is the ability to put together a team and function as a good team player. Since all work is ultimately done by teams, and the managers’ output is the output of the team, the ability to select team members, set objectives, delegate responsibility and finally, get the job done, was central to success in management.

The second quality required for rapid promotion was found to be the ability to function well under pressure, and especially in a crisis. Keeping your cool in a crisis means to practice patience and self-control under difficult or disappointing circumstances.

The character and quality of a leader is often demonstrated in these critical moments under fire, when everyone is watching, observing and privately taking notes. Your job as a leader is to have a clear vision of where you want to go and then to keep your cool when things go wrong, as they surely will.

Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, project forward three to five years and imagine your ideal future vision. What does it look like? What steps can you take immediately to begin turning your future vision into your current reality?

Second, resolve in advance that, no matter what happens, you will remain calm and cool. You will not become upset or angry. You will take a deep breath and focus on the solution rather than on the problem.