In Focus, Leaders, Vision

“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” – Shannon Alder

I was fortunate last week to spend some time working with a business that has been very successful for over 100 years. Over that time, they’ve developed a culture that they’re very proud of and an identity that they’re excited about and that plays well in their marketplace.

Currently, however, they’re facing some very challenging decisions. The business is still doing well, but they have a number of critical growth opportunities, and not enough resources to do them all. A good problem to have, but it means some tough choices are going to have to be made.

The leader of this business has a very clear picture of what the organization is and needs to be, and is very passionate about it. Given that vision, the choices are pretty clear. The hard part is that some members of the leadership team disagree. On the surface it seems that they just disagree on how to allocate resources. What the real issue is, however, is that some of those team members don’t share the leader’s vision.

I’ve run into this before, and usually one of two things happens. Sometimes the leader sticks to what they believe is most critical about the organization’s identify and culture and vision and does what they think is right. They work to bring the team members along, but they go where they feel their vision is taking them.

Unfortunately, sometimes leaders are so concerned about team members being supportive that they end up doing what the team members want just to keep them happy, with the result being that the business ends up looking nothing like how the leader has it pictured in their head. The disparity between reality and the vision causes stress and conflict, and in the end, nobody’s happy.

Think about your business. As the leader, are you passionate about your vision? When you’re convinced it’s right, do you stick to it and lead accordingly? Or, in an effort to please other people, do you make compromises to that vision that result in you leading a business you don’t recognize? The next time your team comes to a crossroads, make sure that the decision you make matches the picture in your head. You won’t regret it if you do – and you’ll never stop regretting it if you don’t.

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