The Power of a Leader’s Vision

What are the most important attributes you need as a leader?   The Creative Group did a poll that indicated that 34% of executives felt strategic vision is the most essential quality for successful leadership.  That poll was taken a few years ago, but I think it’s still worth thinking about today.  In the poll, advertising and marketing executives were asked, “In your opinion, which single quality among the following is the most essential for effective leadership?”  Their responses:

1. Strategic vision 34%
2. Strong interpersonal skills 29%
3. Integrity 29%
4. Creativity 3%
5. Intelligence 3%
6. Don’t know/other 2%

Turner goes on to describe the four most common mistakes that can undermine a manager’s credibility with employees:

• Deserting your team.   Managers who fail to stand up for staff members when they’re unfairly criticized or when times are tough lose their employees’ trust.
• Sending mixed signals.   If you’re receiving contradictory messages from a client or senior executives, you may be passing this confusion on to your team. Make sure you have all the facts, and be consistent in the direction you give. If parameters or goals change, explain why.
• Not giving credit where it’s due.   Acknowledge employee contributions on projects, and never take credit for someone else’s ideas or efforts. Shining the spotlight on your team makes everyone look good.
• Breaking promises.   Only promise what you know you can deliver to your staff. If, for example, employees have been told they will receive a promotion, raise or bonus when company profits improve, follow through on your word as soon as feasible.

How often have you worked for leaders who commit these mistakes?    More important:  Do you?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • This list of qualities essential for effective leadership hasn’t changed for many years.  I think the second two tend to flip back and forth but they’re always near the top and underneath #1, which is always “strategic vision” or whatever they’re calling it at the time.  That said, here’s my new take:

    When a leader is unclear about what he or she wants, s/he becomes insecure and that insecurity leads to poor interpersonal skills which lead to the common mistakes listed above.

    Last night, my husband pulled up a video of Stephen Spielberg from 1978 talking to a group of AFI fellows.  He said the single most important thing for a director to understand is *what he or she wants*.  Until the director knows what s/he wants, s/he can’t communicate it!  But so many directors fail to make it clear for themselves what they want.  Consequently, they become insecure, fearful, and nervous.  That fear and insecurity causes them to react poorly with their production team.  Because they haven’t worked out what they want, they maintain an insular view – focused only on figuring out what they want (because they haven’t yet) and ignore the rest of the important parts of actually leading a productive team.  I think this truth extends to leadership in general.

  • Paul Forrest

    I would enjoy watching the Spielberg AFI clip. Can you provide a link?

  • I disagree to a certain extent. You can have vision and if you don’t have the personnel to birth that vision then it will be of no use. I teach this in all of my leadership conferences: the greatest trait of any leader is not vision, intelligence, gift, charisma . . . it is growth. The ability to GROW encompasses all of the above mentioned Read Moreabilities and traits and in fact increases and enhances such said gift and traits. If a person does not GROW mentally, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, and spiritually then all of the above mentioned traits will be a waste of talent. Growth is the single greatest attribute to a leader because growth is inherent in the Law of Life first spoken by God over humanity when he told Adam “Be FRUITFUL and MULTIPLY. Fill the earth, subdue and rule over it.” Notice the first key to having dominion on this earth was being fruitful and multiplying: in other words growth. God wants all leaders to grow in every aspect of their life. Growth is the key

  • Stephen Spielberg – know what you want.

  • I have faltered in many areas that is for sure. I currently do not hold a position in management or upper leadership (in title terms) but, I consider myself a leader and a student of leadership. I can discern when things are caught in a system of chaos. Normally when things are going haywire the focus is off of the team and onto some system that is believed to fix the problem(s). Systems are great and we need the, but what’s the greater? Building your team! The ability (or systems you have in place) to inspire, motivate and encourage in a genuine way that promotes growth for the team is highly desirable, as well as very effective. I believe when these are within the strategic vision of the organization you’ll see a highly successful organization. Multi faceted profits from outside a financial standpoint is where you see financial increase.

  • #2 & #3 and the bulleted list seem to point out that the culture a leader is capable of creating is one of the most important skills for them to have.