Healthy Leaders


The One Thing We Forget About Leadership

Mike MoweryMike Mowery

As I listen to leaders talk about their organizations, there seems to be a shift from an overemphasis on vision to a neglected emphasis on leadership performance. 

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the importance of vision. We need it. Too many organizations lack a compelling vision that unifies them. Leaders must accept the responsibility to inspire a shared vision that creates passion and excitement for the future.  

However, as it has been said, “A vision without execution is just a hallucination.” If we have created the impression within the organization that performance takes a backseat, then we may have oversold the importance of vision just a bit.

There must be a balance between vision and performance, between leadership and management, and between change and continuity. It has to be both/and ‒ not either/or. Neglecting vision or performance could lead to a floundering team.

What does it take to keep the balance between performance and vision? Possibly, like riding a bicycle: you have to keep pedaling. 

As the leader, you don’t need to be the sole source of vision. However, you do need to delegate vision. You have to initiate vision to those on your team. Whether or not you’re good at it and whether or not you enjoy it, letting your organization run without fresh vision is like trying to run your car on an empty tank of fuel ‒ responsible leaders don’t do that.

At the same time (and, I do mean at the same time!) you need to give performance and approach to leadership the attention it requires. This means establishing clear expectations and scheduling regular inspections. As I heard someone say recently, “Don’t expect what you do not inspect.” Sounds impossible, right? It’s not, but it requires discipline and establishing a culture of doing, not just talking.  The Book of Ecclesiastes has a great proverb about this.  

He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) 

Personally, The Living Bible version makes Ecclesiastes 11:4 clear, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”

There’s never a perfect time for getting things done. Your approach to tasks within leadership is often in a context of being understaffed, overworked and underfunded. However, if you wait for those things to be perfect, you’ll never get anything done. 

This is the shift leaders are beginning to make. Excuses like “We can’t because …” or “We would if we could …” are giving way to the grittiness of performance. That is the freeway to success that great visions drive on.

This article originally appeared here.

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Mike Mowery