Three characteristics of leaders who want to succeed in the changing world of digitization
“We are limited not by our abilities but by our vision.”—Anonymous
The digital world in which we live is highly dynamic. Our businesses, our teams, and our work are constantly buffeted by a myriad of changes. What got us here today—the experience we deliver to customers and to employees—is not capable of getting us to where we want to go tomorrow. To succeed in a changing world of digitization, leaders need to create a great vision for their companies, for their employees, and for themselves.
It may seem so obvious that we need a vision. But why now? Whenever there are changes, we tend to focus on the present. And these changes may draw us away from what we meant to do, draw us from the key tasks which bring long term returns.
If we, as leaders, do not create a vision and aim high, our competitors will. So, what exactly does having a great vision mean? There are three key characteristics:
The vision must be articulated by the leader. It cannot be just a wallpaper. Whether you’re running a small team, a project team, a matrix team or even a virtual team, you need to articulate your vision. The relevance of a vision may not be immediately clear when one is tackling small projects. What is needed, however, is for the team leader to explain the team’s vision, and for it to be cascaded from the corporate vision. It can be simple, it can be interesting, it can be fun, but it must be articulated. That is a sign of a great team-to-be. After the project is over, review what went well and what could be improved. In the next project, aim a little higher and improve how you plan, deliver and achieve the objectives of the project. Leaders—put voice to that great vision.
The vision must be exciting. Exciting not just to shareholders, not just to senior management, but exciting to the team members as well. And for the record, creating KPIs is not a vision! KPI is an indicator, a means to track and measure. But it is certainly not a vision. Having too lofty and grandiose a vision will not excite either. A vision needs to be at the correct intellectual and emotional level. It must make sense, and have direct relevance to employees.
A way to create that vision is to ask everyone: How will we be described two to three years from today? What will we be known for? Their feedback can help frame a vision that is neither too immediate nor too far in the future. A great vision may sound crazy and farfetched to some but that does not matter. Once the team believes in it, great things will happen. Go ahead and create that great vision with your teams.
Everyone should share in the vision. As leaders, we need to consciously keep the team involved, ensuring there are roles and responsibilities that align to the vision and can be helmed by team members. Allow everyone to reflect on the vision and how they can contribute to making it happen. This helps everyone in the team know that they have a part to play. Similar to a F1 sports put crew, there is one driver and one car, but at the pit stop, the crew roughly consists of a lollipop man, four tire changers, eight tire carriers, two stabilizers, two front wing men, and the front and rear jack men, not to mention the fire extinguisher man and the starter man, whose jobs are simply to be on standby in case they are needed! Your team is like the F1 pit crew. Everyone has a part to play in that great vision!
As a leader, are you leading your team with a great vision in this rapid age of change?