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The Underappreciated Work of Making Vision a Reality

We’re enamored with strategic thinking and vision casting. Most leaders want to be seen as strategic and visionary thinkers who cruise around at 30,000 feet. We value this skill set so much that we make heroes out of these same leaders.

But I’m convinced that being just a visionary leader isn’t nearly enough. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not minimizing the importance of these skills – creating strategy and vision need to be a part of any leaders work. Too often, though, leaders spend too much energy on vision and strategy and too little energy on tactics and execution.

We often look down on tactical work and the execution of strategy because we misread people like Steve Jobs and credit Apple’s success to his vision and strategic thinking.

But if you’ve read any of the 100’s of recent articles and blogs about Jobs after the announcement of his retirement as CEO you see a different picture. What you find is a leader who spent much of his time in the “trenches” working on the details of new products – in other words doing the tactical work. This is what made Jobs truly visionary. It was his willingness to do the hard, everyday work required to assure that his vision and strategy succeeded.

So as a leader my goal’s to spend only a small percentage of my time on vision while spending most of my time working side by side with our staff, board, supporters and volunteers in the hard work of making our vision reality. Because at the end of my time at SpringHill, if anything’s written about me, I want it to be said, not that I was just a visionary, but that I led an organization that turned its vision into a world transforming reality.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Michael Smith #

    Simple truth spoken by a wise man. You are right on target Michael. One of the reasons many leaders avoid the trenches is that it is often the hard work that exposes our most hidden weaknesses. And human nature always tries to display a position of power and strength. For a leader to truly lead as a servant is unnatural and hard work. Keep it up Michael!

    September 8, 2011
  2. chris #

    Nice photo Michael. Composition and subject matter are right on.
    – Chris

    September 9, 2011
    • Thanks Chris, still figuring it out but am enjoying the process.

      September 9, 2011

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