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Why Does Vision Matter?. Vision: A key component of leadership Article written by: Burt Nanus Presented by: Alex McCann. Dr. Burt Nanus. Management professor at the University of Southern California

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why does vision matter

Why Does Vision Matter?

Vision: A key component of leadership

Article written by: Burt Nanus

Presented by: Alex McCann

dr burt nanus
Dr. Burt Nanus

Management professor at the University of Southern California

He is the author of nine books including his most famous book- “Visionary Leadership” (1992)

Co author with Warren Bennis of “Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge” (1985)-sold more than 500,000 copies

what is the first responsibility of a leader
What is the First Responsibility of a Leader?
  • Define Reality
    • How has the company grown to its current size
    • Challenges the company has faced and overcome
    • Competitive advantages and limitations
    • Skills and knowledge of workers and managers
    • New technologies
definition of vision
Definition of Vision

Vision is a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization

A leader has to implement this vision because they point the way

Here is where the action is and this is where we can make our unique contributions

why is vision so powerful
Why is Vision so Powerful?

It grabs the attention and focus

Every organization has lots of ways to go, but no organization can be all things to all people because the outside world is pulling it in all directions

Each organization has to ask its self “what is most important to us and where do we want our organization to go in the future?”

vision has five important factors
Vision has Five Important Factors

1) Vision creates meaning in the organization

-cuts through confusion and makes the world


2) Vision provides a worthwhile challenge

-generates pride in being part of a team

3) Vision is energizing

-it provides something to believe in, its exciting

4) Vision brings the future into the present

-When one imagines what can be and gives it a name, it

become real right now

5) Vision creates a common identity

-People work together with a sense of common ownership and common destiny

why is vision so important
Why is Vision so Important?

It is the main tool that leaders use to guide from the head of the organization

Leaders push or pressure their followers, not manipulate them

It allows leaders to inspire, attract and energize their followers and gets them to accomplish their goals

If there is no vision there will be no energy and no excitement -the organization become stagnant and managers can’t agree on anything

futures creative leadership
Futures-Creative Leadership

Leaders need to look into the future

However some leaders aren’t able to look into the future because they say they are under pressure to accomplish short terms tasks

Leaders question whether it is possible to think about the future at all

Lao Tzu said “if all of a leader’s attention is on the short term, then continued crises are almost certain, for he is not taking advantage of lead time to address problems while they are still small.”

Other leaders say that their industry is changing to fast to permit them to look into long-range thinking

forming mental images
Forming Mental Images
  • Form mental images of the future and the images will turn into a reality through leadership and action
  • A leader must generate mental images and then separate them into three piles

1.Possible futures

-Changes in the outside world—based on trends and information

        • Ex-Car manufactures may spend millions of dollars on market research

2. Probable futures

-This is a subset of possible futures—those possible futures that are seen right now are likely to occur

3. Preferable futures

- This is also a subset of possible futures

  • It is from these preferred futures that the leader articulates and institutionalizes a set of ideals and missions that become part

of his vision

leaders should be open minded
Leaders Should be Open-Minded

A leader should embrace uncertainty because it opens up new possibilities and opportunities

Must be careful not to have to much uncertainty because that will paralyze the organization so the leader must have a purpose and set direction

inadequacy of leadership
Inadequacy of Leadership
  • Only upper levels of management have the authority to change the system to make it work better
  • At lower levels only effective leadership can redirect the attention of managers and workers to tasks more appropriate and challenging
  • Leadership has become off-balance-leadership and is mostly concerned about communication and trust while it needs to focus more on the changing external environment
    • Ex—Cereal manufacture has major concerns beyond customer acceptance
  • The pace of change is so rapid that present conditions represent only a fleeting and often misleading glimpse of future possibilities
inadequacy of leadership cont
Inadequacy of Leadership (cont)
  • Conventional Wisdom about leadership includes vision but it does so in a way that permits and encourages mission statements that are little more than a continuation of the status quo
    • Ex—A corporate leader may have a vision of getting back to the basics or cutting the budget—these are great goals, but they don’t suggest a future
  • A true vision must provide a clear image
    • Ex-President Kennedy’s vision of a man on the moon by 1970
leading from the middle
Leading From the Middle

The leader must be in the center where it all comes together

It is as if the leader is standing in a spider web

By being in the middle the leader is able to balance the needs of the internal and external environment and the challenges of the present and future

vision team by burt nanus
Vision TeamBy Burt Nanus

Few good things in human affairs “just happen”

People dream of a better tomorrow and make their dreams a reality.

That is what vision is all about

what is a vision retreat
What is a Vision Retreat?

A vision retreat is a meeting of a carefully chosen group of individuals engaged in a structured series of exercises designed to identify and assess vision alternatives for an organization

It can also be used in a management-development program to teach potential leaders about the importance of vision and broaden their horizons about the future of their organization

purpose of vision retreat
Purpose of Vision Retreat

Develop plans or long range strategies

Vision retreat can go a long way toward breaking the ‘business as usual’ mindset by shining the spotlight on new possibilities and opportunities

This allows participants to be bold and creative without feeling that they are threatening their current operations

why use a group process
Why Use a Group Process

Ensures that the resulting vision incorporates a broad range of viewpoints and expertise

Allows the ideas of individuals to be tested, argued, amplified, and refined by other

Involving executives in the search for a shared vision makes it easier to gain commitment to the vision

leadership and moral purpose
Leadership and Moral Purpose

Leadership needs to be a merger of competence and moral purpose committed to the common good

Measure performance in terms of the needs of followers

Leadership is legitimate only by meeting the needs of the followers

If there are no followers, there are no leaders

leadership and moral purpose1
Leadership and Moral Purpose

One of the most important questions leaders can ask is What will we measure?

What is the appropriate level of lying?

leadership and moral purpose2
Leadership and Moral Purpose

Six Steps on the nature of leadership competence

The leader perceives, defines, and expresses reality

The leader knows that the future is the selection, nurturing, and assignment of key people

Leaders bear personal responsibility for understanding and enabling creative process

Leaders have to learn how to be transforming leaders

The competent leader builds trust

Leaders discover and helps to polish and enables diverse gifts

leadership and moral purpose3
Leadership and Moral Purpose

Six Steps of moral purpose






Personal Restraint


De Pree, Max. “Leadership and Moral Purpose.” Hospital and Health Services Administration 39.1 (1994): 133-138. Print

Nanus, Burt. Leading the Vision Team.” The Futurist (1996): 20-23. Print.

Nanus, Burt. “Futures-Creative Leadership.” Leaders Edge: Seven Keys to Leadership in a Turbulent World (1989): 13-17. Print.