What We Get is What We See
By: Jim Clemmer
Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. His web site is http://www.clemmer.net/
Your ability to develop an energizing vision for your team or organization
determines whether you're be a high performing leader or a Technomanager,
technician, supervisor, project manager, administrator, or bureaucrat.
At the heart of leading others is your ability to develop and communicate
a clear and compelling picture of your team or organization's preferred
Within two months of joining forces in 1981, Art McNeil and I developed
the first of many visions for The Achieve Group (a training and consulting
we founded and eventually sold to California-based Zenger Miller Inc.)
It became a yearly ritual for us, and later our team of Achievers to review
and revise our vision (and values) and then set that year's strategies,
goals, plans, and budgets. In 1983, we collaborated with Tom Peters' to
develop "Toward Excellence" an executive action planning process.
We went on to help hundreds of management teams (some much more successfully
then others) in many countries establish their vision, values, and purpose
and then put together implementation strategies and build the leadership
skills that brought it all to life. These rich experiences showed that
a powerful team or organization vision:
Organization Pathways and Pitfalls
- creates organizational energy and enthusiasm for change and improvement.
- provides an overarching "big picture" direction, focus, and passion
to strategies, budgets, plans, systems, processes, and technological change.
- focuses and builds teams much more effectively than wilderness experiences,
simulations, or group exercises
- counterbalances the pain, suffering, and helplessness that downsizing,
disaster, or other such depressing activities usually bring.
- vaccinates people against the Victimitis Virus and Pessimism Plague by
giving them a sense of hopefulness and self-determination.
- sets up a "magnetic force" that will attract the people and "lucky
breaks" needed to move toward the vision.
- repels those people who don't want to be any part of anything so "unrealistic",
"fanciful", "stupid", etc.
- boosts everyone's "psychic pay" and make them feel like winners
who are part of an organization that's going somewhere exciting.
Highly effective leaders take many different pathways to help teams and
people throughout their organization clarify or clearly see pictures of
their preferred future. Here are a few tips and traps:
Vision is the critical focal point and beginning to high performance. Powerful
pictures produce passion and persistence. The clearer and more compelling
the vision, the stronger the passion. And the more likely we are to hang
in there during the inevitable downs, discouragements, and defeats as we
reach for our dreams.
- Like mission and vision statements and values, goal setting and visioning
labels often get confused and used interchangeably. Generally that doesn't
matter. As long as you and the people on you team and in your organization
are clear and consistent with their meanings and approaches, don't get
hung up on definitions and jargon. But many people really are confused
about the conflicting and complimentary aspects of visions and goals. Goals
are management issues. They deal with rational analysis, planning, measurement,
and discipline. Visions are leadership issues. They deal with feelings,
energy, ideas, and fantasy. These are not either/or choices -- both are
- You and your team need to picture and describe your preferred future as
vividly as possible. One approach is to imagine it's five years from today
and you're being interviewed by a leading journalist on the phenomenal
success your company or team have had. Describe the results you've achieved
and perhaps the approach you've used. Speak in the present tense as if
it's all happening around you right now. What are your highly loyal customers
saying about your team or organization? How are people throughout your
organization talking and acting? How about suppliers? Shareholders? Other
external or internal partners?
- Too many managers try to delegate "the vision thing" to a committee.
It doesn't work. If you're a senior manager, caring for the context and
providing organization focus isn't just part of your job, it is your job.
- Unless you're an exceptionally clear and inspiring writer, be very careful
about drafting a "vision statement" and using that as your communications
center piece. Visions are about feelings, beliefs, emotions, and pictures.
It's very hard to bring those across on paper. Visions are the most compelling
when they are delivered in person by a leader who's an effective communicator.
Powerful personal communication skills and energizing leadership are inseparable.
Learn how to use "impassioned logic" by adding metaphors, stories,
models, or examples to help everyone "see the big picture" and
rouse their emotions to make it happen.