8 – Leadership and Vision

8 – Leadership and Vision

Leadership and Vision

Today’s segment is the fifth and last in a series of podcasts on leadership. This segment will discuss the concept that strong leaders have vision and the ability to communicate that vision to their people.

Think for a moment about the impact of Ray Kroc on McDonalds. Kroc’s vision extended well beyond his first franchised hamburger restaurant. He coined his company’s motto — ‘Quality, service, cleanliness and value’ — and communicated that message daily to his employees to drive the organization forward into a global success story.

Transcript

Jones: The leaders that I admire the most are those that are clear in their vision and do not waiver.

Blanks: That leader has to be there with the vision for people to follow.

Clark: If you can’t get the people who are working with you to believe in your vision, the abilities of your company, and where you are going, I don’t think you are a successful leader. Clark15_strongLeader

Kristen: Welcome to “Sound Advice” – the brief audio download that brings the best of eClips to you. I’m Kirsten Barker.

Today’s segment is the fifth and last in a series of podcasts on leadership. This segment will discuss the concept that strong leaders have vision and the ability to communicate that vision to their people.

Think for a moment about the impact of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc. Kroc’s vision extended well beyond his first hamburger restaurant. He coined his company’s motto — ‘Quality, service, cleanliness and value’ — and communicated that message daily to his employees to drive his organization forward into a global success story.

According to the experts we’ll hear from today, the ability to define and communicate a vision is one of the most important attributes that a leader can have.

We’ll open with a comment from Earl Blanks. Blanks began his career at Procter & Gamble but eventually left to found a consulting business, the Small Business Marketing Planning Center, which provided marketing consulting services to smaller companies that generated $3-5 M per year in sales. He later became a successful owner of a Party City franchise and is now working on the renovation of inner city areas in the US. In Blank’s view, not only is vision needed to motivate people but a leader’s vision is also the key precursor to change.

Blanks: I think that leadership skills are very important. And I think people need to understand the importance of having the vision that is necessary. Because with a good vision, people will find that they will get supporters. And I think that’s very, very important. Is to have conviction and a vision. Many times we don’t have enough of that. And things just sometimes make change happen. That leader has to be there with the vision for people to follow. And if that person isn’t there with that vision, we just don’t get the change. It doesn’t take place.

Kristen: Next, we’ll hear from another P&G alum, Kate Jones. Jones is a co-founder of Provisor Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in new business development. Prior to founding Provisor, she spent 15 years in Sales and Marketing at Procter & Gamble. She shares her opinion that the best leaders not only have a vision and communicate it – but also make their team feel that they also “own” the vision.

Jones: For me, the leaders that I admire the most are those that are clear in their vision and do not waiver. And those that also practice servant leadership. And I think of those that I have worked with in my life that I have admired as leaders. They were those who could clearly understood where they wanted to go. And could articulate it. And would stay true to it. But yet they always understood, and in the environments that I was in, that they could never do it by themselves. And they understood that it was not by dictating to others, that they would get where they wanted to go. But rather by enrolling them in their vision. And aligning themselves to people who understood their vision. Even if maybe their way to get there would be different. And so I think as I think – and I always think when you say leadership, I think to people who I had as either coaches as captains of teams, as immediate bosses for me. And those – the ones that stand out are the ones that had that very clear sense of their vision. And could share it. And yet, always made you feel as though you were a contributor.

Kristen: In addition to the leaders that she admires, Jones also talks about her personal experience serving as leader. She states that her best leadership roles emerged by helping to shape the vision of the team.

Jones: Within company and organizational environments, my leadership roles have almost always been not necessarily ones that I were assigned to, rather ones that as the group was able to come together, I was always able to help them identify what that vision was. Because to me, that is such an important point, would be to be able to provide a vision. And then help each individual understand how they played a role in that vision. So for me, I think that is probably where – now I have never been you know, the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. So I do not have that kind of leadership experience. But where I have had leadership, and we have shared leadership within our company. There are four founding partners. And we are on equal footing. But there are times when I have to lead the organization in a certain direction, because I have a certain set of understanding, or I have the vision of what needs to get done by the company.

Kristen: Jones point is echoed by Laura Clark, an Investment Principal at private wealth management firm Lowry Hill. Clark also spent 12 years at JP Morgan where she served as a Vice President in equity sales. She also thinks that employees need a clearly communicated vision with specific goals if the individuals and the organization are to be successful.

Clark: I do think someone has to be able to sell that vision and passion of a company to the people who have to execute on a day-to-day basis. I mean if you can’t get the people who are working with you to believe in your vision, the abilities of your company, and where you are going, I don’t think you are a successful leader. Because you cannot do it yourself. Unless you are your own shop. Okay. You are a one-man show. But you think about huge organizations like 3M or Microsoft or General Electric, Jeff Immelt General Electric has a vision. And he has a vision for General Electric. He’s got some very set financial criteria of we need to be number one or two in our businesses. They’ve got to meet these certain return requirements. You know. Economic hurdles. But after that, he somehow has to infuse the belief that we can do this. And we’re going to be the best at what we do. And I think that is pretty critical.

Kristen: We’ll close with a comment from Ed Mace. Mace has had a distinguished thirty-five-year career in the hotel business including serving as President of Vail Resorts Lodging and President of Fairmont Hotels before becoming director of the San Francisco-based REIT, BRE Properties in 1998. In his experiences, he has found you can’t get people to follow you on a path if you are unable to define and communicate what path you are traveling.

Mace: There are couple of principles that I sort of have found work almost universally in terms of leadership. The first that I think is critical is you have to believe in something. You have to stand … a leader must stand for something. It’s very hard for people to follow someone if they can’t grasp what it is, where it is they’re going, what the mission is, why are we doing it, how are we doing it, why should we do it. It’s … the best leaders in my view whether it’s political or business or not for profit have an internal compass that says here’s what we stand for and they can communicate it in various ways to the different constituents that they have to organize and manage. So first and foremost is to believe. Secondly, is to communicate and to communicate well. Aligning the vision with all of the various parties that have to be involved in whatever it is you’re leading, is perhaps the most critical. You can believe and you can be passionate and you can understand the mission but if you can’t communicate that mission to people well and regularly in a way that they can understand it, it’s very hard as well to get people to follow the course that you’re pursuing.

Kristen: Former US Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Price laureate Henry Kissinger once stated, “If you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” Today’s speakers agree. A strong leader can articulate their vision and communicate it to their team so that everyone in the organization is walking in the same direction on the same road.

Thanks for listening to this segment. If you are interested in hearing more from Earl Blanks, Kate Jones, Laura Clark or Ed Mace, or if you are interested in hearing more eClips speakers share thoughts on the topic of leadership, please check out our website at eclips.cornell.edu.

That’s E-C-L-I-P-S. cornell.edu.

And remember, if it is a business topic of interest, eClips will bring you “Sound Advice”…


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