Lately I’ve been thinking, researching, writing and speaking a lot about leadership. I had some philosophical discussions with myself “What is the Secret to Leadership?”

First of all – I had to get clear on the definition, then haul out about a half dozen books on the subject. This is a topic I’ve had instilled on my brain since youth, but I’ve been asked to create professional development programs on the topics for various industries… so today I want to share the common denominators.

The Secret to Leadership Starts with the Vision

First of all – leadership really is distilling ones thoughts into a big picture vision – a common purpose for your followers to understand, share, and use as a guide for all actions, thoughts and behaviors to customers and to oneself.

How to create a vision? Well – that depends on what you are creating the vision for. Jim Collins wrote about “big hairy audacious goals” in his book “Good to Great”. He had a method and a process for arriving at those and they might not be what you think. He had a system and a qualification method for ranking companies on their leadership skills.

If you are the CEO of a business, often creating a vision statement often becomes a big project. In the end, the employees read it when it’s released or posted on the wall and then often start to make jokes about it. If it is created as a collaboration of strategic thinkers in the organization, perhaps there are champions in the enterprise that can bring those ideas that spurred the vision to be formulated forward, and the masses may be passed some of the thinking behind it.

A strategic vision is one that will propel the business forward, and achieve the goals of the enterprise and the CEO. A tactical vision may solve a problem in the short term, or on a longer term basis. The leadership styles of the CEO and his or her board will dictate much of this, as well as the reasons for needing to craft a vision in the first place. Most often, the vision or common purpose for the company is a starting point, and goes hand and hand with setting one, big, hairy audacious goal.

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