Creating a compelling vision is the ONE thing that separates leaders from all other people!
This is a continuation of the series on the 3 essential roles of every CEO (leadership, management and entrepreneurship) where I began with the role of the CEO as a Leader and talked about the 3 essential qualities of effective leadership; character, vision and competence.
Character is about who you are as a person. It describes what kind of a person you are and what earns you the privilege to lead others since people naturally like to follow those they respect and those whose life they want to emulate.
Until there’s something commendable and worth emulating from you as a person, attempting to lead the right people will be an exercise in futility irrespective of the position you might occupy.
Character is therefore the foundation of effective leadership. In case you missed out on last week’s article where I shared some insights about what it takes to develop the right character necessary for effective leadership, you can read it here; developing the right character for effective leadership. Let’s now go over to the second essential quality of effective leadership – Vision.
Vision is the Second Essential Quality of Effective Leadership
Vision –an idea to die for– is the ONE thing that separates leaders from all other people. Your ability to constantly attract and lead the right people depends on the quality of your vision as a leader. You see, leadership does truly begin with you as a person (character) but it is never all about you (self-centeredness).
Leadership is about others; what you want to do for them, with them and in them. Leadership is a stewardship role; you are in charge of making something positive happen. It’s not just about being good (character) it’s also about doing good (vision).
It is one thing to have the right character that inspires others to look up to you and willingly want to follow you, the other thing is to ask yourself; “where are they following me to?” or “where am I leading them to?”
The answer to this question is what is called Vision and it’s your differentiating mark as a leader.
Vision is the yardstick against which your success or failure as a leader is measured. Your effectiveness as a leader is determined by how well you are able to lead others towards the fulfillment of a vision. Without a vision you cannot unify the collective efforts of the right people.
People like to know what they are working towards. The right people don’t just gather around or follow leaders who are only ‘good people’ (character); they want to gather around and follow leaders who are passionate about ‘doing good’ (vision).
So it’s your responsibility as a leader to create a compelling vision that can unify the collective efforts of your people. What is the positive thing that you want to make happen? What is that idea that you’re betting your life on and is worth dying for? What did you create your company to accomplish? What did you go into business to make happen? To what end do you need a team of the right people for?
Creating A Compelling Vision For Your Organization
In answering these questions, here are 5 factors to consider in creating a compelling vision;
- People oriented: creating a compelling vision begins and ends with people in mind. Why? Because people don’t gather for a leader (person), they gather for a reason (vision). Creating a compelling vision shouldn’t be about what you will get but rather, what you will give as an organization. Make your vision externally rather than internally focused. The more externally focused your vision is, the more commitment it will attract from the right people needed to make it happen.
- Clarity: the essence of a compelling vision is to unify the collective efforts of people and give direction to the entire organization. In order to achieve this, the vision must be clear and shouldn’t be ambiguous. See it big, but keep it short and simple. (SIBKISS)
- Timed: every vision has a specific time line (expiration date). When do you want to accomplish your vision? In creating a compelling vision, always remember that a vision without a time line is just a wish and therefore lacks the much needed sense of urgency that brings about the motivation required to make it happen.
- Measurable: what good is a compelling vision if you can’t determine how well you are doing? In creating a compelling vision, make sure there are specific milestones along the way that indicates how close or how far you are in relation to your vision.
- Achievable: don’t create a lofty vision which you don’t have the required resources (people, knowledge, finance, time etc) to make happen. Always create a compelling vision around your passion and core areas of competence.
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Does your business have a compelling vision? How were you able to create it?
Do you have the RIGHT character for effective leadership?
Truth be told; developing ones character for effective leadership is not an easy task, it’s a lifelong task, but its benefits outweighs any pain suffered along the way.
Character is not a destination that is reached; it’s a continuous process that must be perpetually worked on. Just as Eleanor Roosevelt rightly said,
“Character building begins in our infancy, and continues until death”.
Although character is related to personality, it is not the same thing. Personality is primarily inborn traits, while character consists of learned behaviour. Personality is what comes with you from birth; character is what you build all through your life.
Developing Your Character For Effective Leadership
As a CEO in playing your leadership role, developing the right character for effective leadership must be an ongoing process. This lifetime journey revolves around two key things that you must constantly focus on and always strive to improve. What are they?
- Your Values
- Your Habits
VALUES for Developing the Right Character for Effective Leadership
- Why do you think the way you do? Values.
- Why do you behave the way you do? Values.
Values are a set of deeply held beliefs, principles, qualities, standards or virtues that inspire and guides how we do (attitude) and why we do (thoughts).
Values are at the core of our attitudes, thoughts and dispositions; the combination of what we believe in and how we behave. They are what constitute what we think about (thoughts/intents) and form the basis of our attitude and dispositions.
In other words, they are the unseen source from which all our thoughts and attitudes originate. They determine what we believe and don’t believe; what we hold to be true; what’s important; what we respect and don’t respect; and what we are willing and not willing to do to achieve our goals.
They are the inner rules or principles we use to make choices and run our lives. They are those things we believe to be right in relationship to how we behave and why we do the things we do.
We all have values, whether implied or explicit; no human exists without one. We are all driven by something within; some are driven by money, sex, greed, pain, anger, change, purpose, etc. There are both positive and negative values, we can either choose to acknowledge our values and make necessary corrections or choose to ignore their existence and enslave ourselves. Whichever way we choose to look at it, the fact remains true; we’re all driven by one value or another, good or bad.
The difference between exceptional leaders and ordinary men and women is the simple fact that exceptional leaders consciously identify and adopt certain enduring values of life and greatness. While ordinary people simply go about their lives without being aware of the values they have unconsciously adopted. The truth is that there’s no vacuum in life, we must either choose our own values deliberately or allow our subconscious to adopt whatever value it picks from those around us.
This is the case with most people; they find themselves being driven by values they didn’t remember adopting and these values often times run contrary to their character. Because it’s your life and you’re ultimately responsible for how it turns out, why not take the pain to identify, choose and adopt the right values on which to build your life?
You’re probably asking yourself right now one of these questions; “what has being an effective leader got to do with my personal values in life?” Or “are we talking about life here or business?”
To both questions, the answers are the same;
life is a business, business is life.
Both are not two independent things, they are only two sides of the same coin. When it comes to success or greatness in life or in business, the rules are the same. Just as you cannot separate your body from your spirit, you cannot also draw a line between life and business. Why? Because both revolve around you as a person.
You are responsible for running your life and your business; neither will change until you do. If you cannot see the relationship between your behaviour and the results you’re not achieving in your life or in your business, then there’s nothing to change.
The way you live your personal life will reflect in your business and vice versa. People fail in business often times because they try to live a dual life by separating their business from their life. This is only insane. Every successful CEO or business executive knows that business is not another entity away from life, but rather an extension of life. Where do you think the whole idea of doing what you love and bringing your passion to work originated from?
Business at its very core simply means doing something about what you’re most concerned–passion. It means taking your passion and making it an enterprise. How on earth do you intend to do this independently without involving your life? Therefore, your personal values as well as your business values must be one. Duplicity will never lead to authenticity. Remember our definition of character; wholeness whether in business or life or wherever you find yourself.
Now let’s take a look at some of the enduring values of effective leaders both present and past. Each of these values have been personalized so as to make them memorable and applicable for you.
HABITS for Developing the Right Character for Effective Leadership
Habits are what you do (actions) as a result of what you believe and have accepted as true. Habits are your values in action. Your values are manifested through your habits.
As John C. Maxwell said;
“Habits are not instincts. They are acquired reactions. They don’t just happen; they are caused. First we form habits, then our habits form us.”
Your values are the source of your habits. If you have the wrong values, you will exhibit the wrong habits.
For example, someone who deeply values pleasure will form the habit of always shying away from work. Likewise, someone who believes so much in material possession will form the habit of acquiring luxuries. Also, a person who values knowledge will always be found reading and learning.
Habits are often considered dangerous because once they are formed; they can be very hard to break.
So what are some of the habits of effective leaders?
Generally, values and habits for developing the right character for effective leadership are unlimited and are based on personal preferences.
I’ve only tried to an extent to provide a head start for you as it’s essential you continue to search for more enduring values and habits of greatness in life. Remember, character development is a lifelong journey.
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What are the 3 essential qualities of effective leadership?
The foundation of every successful CEO is leadership. The two other roles (management and entrepreneurship) that make up the 3 essential roles of every CEO builds upon the success of your role as a leader.
The 3 Essential Qualities Of Effective Leadership
In continuing our discussion on the role of the CEO as a leader, here are three essential qualities of effective leadership;
- Character – a life worth emulating
- Vision – an idea to die for
- Competence – expertise in any particular discipline, field or thing
Character is the foundation and the first criteria among the qualities of effective leadership. This is where it all begins–within. Who you are (character) ultimately defines your success or failure as a leader. And when the leader fails, the whole organization fails.
Character is the price you pay as a CEO for the leadership role you play. Being the CEO may confer on you the highest position in a business, but it doesn’t make you a leader.
Being a CEO doesn’t mean you have the capacity to lead. The capacity to lead comes from your character as a person. It is very critical you understand this; your position as a CEO doesn’t confer the capacity to lead. Using your position as a strategy for leading is the definition of autocracy (leadership through force).
True leaders (the kind that makes organizations effective) lead through permission (character) and not by position (authority). This is why character becomes a must. This is why character precedes all other qualities of effective leadership.
What is character?
The dictionary defines character “as the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.” Here’s another definition of character as given by The United States Air Force Academy which I think best captures the essence of character;
“We define character as the sum of those qualities of moral excellence that stimulate a person to do the right thing, which is manifested through right and proper actions despite internal or external pressures to the contrary.”
The key word to note about this definition is the word ‘sum’ implying that character is not made up of only one thing, but composed of more than one thing. Character means ‘wholeness’. It is the summation of several qualities, behaviours and thoughts that reveals the totality of a person.
Character is not only a question of what a person does (action) it also includes both how you do (attitude) and why you do (thought). Character is the whole of a person; an integration of “what you do” (actions, behaviours); “how you do” (disposition, attitude); and “why you do” (intention, thought).
Character is the map that guides your behaviours, thoughts and actions. Once it is flawed, every other thing else will be flawed. If it’s powerful enough to move you to act (behave) in a certain way (attitude), then it’s really who you are (character). It’s the summation of these three parts that makes up the whole of your character as a person.
This is why when asked to describe a person’s character, most people simply mention certain qualities, attributes or traits about that person ranging from the way he or she thinks (intents or motives), the manner in which they do things (attitudes or dispositions) and what they do (behaviours or actions).
Character as one of the qualities of effective leadership, cannot be formed, judged or described in isolation without these three key factors. Why? Because as much as your actions or behaviours (what you do) have some things to say about you, so also does your dispositions or attitudes (how you do) and your intentions or thoughts (why you do).
Collectively, they make up who you really are. You cannot separate one part from the other, everything must all add up. Indeed, when it comes to character, everything counts!
Why is character an essential Quality of effective leadership?
Because every organization takes on the personality of its leaders. Your people are fractional bits and pieces of who you are as their leader. Who you are as a person reflects on the entire organization. So if you happen to be a wrong person as a result of a flawed character, then the whole organization is in jeopardy. You cannot expect to lead the right kind of people that an organization needs to be effective when you are not the right person yourself.
It takes only the RIGHT kind of leader to lead the RIGHT kind of people necessary to achieve the RIGHT kind of results an effective organization desires.
This is the ultimate test of your leadership role as a CEO because it takes character to inspire the commitment and efforts of the right kind of people you need to work with in order to succeed.
Attracting the RIGHT people required in building a team of high performers demand high standards and you are the first person everyone looks up to as the leader to model these high standards through your character.
You can hone your leadership skills and build your character by earning a masters in organizational leadership to further ensure that you attract the RIGHT people and exact the RIGHT results on your company.
As the CEO, do you have the right character to lead? How well have you successfully led yourself? Is your life worth emulating? What is commendable about your existence? Can others proudly look up to you? What makes you worthy of other people’s obedience? What other reasons besides being in the front should make them follow you?
That you’re in the front doesn’t confer the right to lead. Will they still follow you if you were at the back or in the middle among them? If it wasn’t for the salary, will they still come to work for you?
True leadership begins with you. Will they still obey and be loyal to you if you lost the top position? Will they still commit to the dream? Will they still follow if all you have left is your character? Will you still be able to inspire their loyalty if you lose everything else except your life?
There you are; being a CEO has very little to do with position and everything to do with you. The ultimate test of leadership is not power, position, money, talent or skill but character. Who you are as a person speaks louder than the title you bear and the position you occupy.
A CEO without a sound character is a tyrant. The position you occupy and the title you bear will only amplify who you truly are as a person. The king of pigs is still fundamentally a pig, no more, no less.
This is why it’s most crucial that you work on yourself long enough before you step into the position of a CEO. The reality is this; whatever flaw you have in you as a person will be multiplied once you assume any leadership position and whatever strength you possess will likewise be multiplied.
Your position as a CEO will not hide who you fundamentally are; it will only further reveal it. So now is the best time to work on yourself–CHARACTER.
How do you begin to work on your character?
That is a subject for another day; watch out for the continuation “HOW TO DEVELOP THE RIGHT CHARACTER FOR EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP”. Because this is a series, you need to stay updated by subscribing to naijapreneur!
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What role has character played in your leadership experience as a CEO?
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“Are you the kind of leader the RIGHT kind of people will like to work with?”
Last week, I began a series on The 3 essential roles of every CEO, this is a continuation that begins with the role of the CEO as a Leader.
The Leadership Role Of Every CEO
The job of a CEO begins with a leadership role. The essence of your leadership role as a CEO is to make the organization effective –capable of doing the RIGHT things. An effective organization is one with the right people all occupying the right positions collectively engaged in doing the right things. That is;
‘right PEOPLE + right POSITIONS + right ACTIONS = EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATION’
Making the above equation a reality in an organization is the primary task of the CEO as a leader. It is a three-fold task that begins with you the leader. The above equation is ‘what’ you need to do as a leader, as you must have probably noticed, the underlying theme in the equation is the word “right.”
Which clearly captures the whole essence of the role of the CEO as a leader –making an organization effective. I wish these were all you needed in order to succeed in your role as a leader, but there’s still one missing element in the equation that is vitally important. That missing element is YOU – the leader!
Here’s what I mean.
“Business is like making babies, it’s not something you can do all by yourself; it requires the collective efforts of others.”
You see, while no one person (leader) can single-handedly build a great company; one wrong person (leader) can single-handedly bring down a company. How? When you as the business owner begins to think it’s all about you.
This is usually the case with most small business owners. I know you are the owner of your business no doubt, but you also need to understand this fact; before you chose to become a business owner, success was very much all about you and the result of your personal efforts, but now that you’re running your own business; success is all about others and the result of their collective efforts.
A majority of businesses fail largely because of this singular factor, so it’s highly important you understand this crucial point and begin to make the necessary paradigm shift early. The success or failure of an organization depends largely on how well the CEO plays their role as a leader.
As the CEO, your role as a leader demands that you shift your focus from yourself and begin to focus more on others and what you collectively want to achieve. Management guru Jim Colins in his legendary book “good to great” talks about the kind of leadership required to take an organization from being a good one to being a great one; ‘level 5 leadership’.
Here is what he identified as the key trait of a ‘level 5 leader’;
“ambition first and foremost for the company and concern for its success rather than for one’s own riches and personal renown.”
Leadership is about Teamwork
Business is a team sport and only the teams with the best players can win. To build a winning team requires a leader that not only wins but also knows how to lead a pack of winners and make winners out of losers. Winners being who they are don’t naturally like to hang around losers even though that loser bears the title of a CEO.
That you now occupy a leadership position as a result of your CEO title doesn’t necessarily mean you are a leader. Being a leader is much more than occupying a position.
As I pointed out last week in the first article in this series, positions or titles doesn’t make you; functions and duties do. As a CEO in your role as a leader, the bulk of your work is mainly people-centered. Your functions and duties (responsibilities) majorly revolve around working with people and leading them. And when it comes to people, knowing ‘what’ to do alone won’t do the trick.
People are not things. They don’t care how much you know and can do until they know how much you care and make them feel. Therefore, knowing ‘what’ to do is only one part of the story, knowing ‘who’ to become in order to do what needs to be done is the main story.
The real challenge here is gathering the right kind of people to work with as a team, for only the right kind of people can be truly effective –capable of doing the right things. You see the right people are very rare to find or attract because they only submit to the right kind of leadership.
They are not predominantly motivated by how much they are paid; they are mainly motivated by passion and will only follow the right leader whose vision, goal or objective they consider worthy of their commitment and loyalty. You cannot out rightly buy them over; you earn their commitment and loyalty. Figuring how to be the right kind of leader is your main responsibility as a CEO.
So here’s the big question;
The Right Kind of Leader
Making an organization effective –capable of doing the RIGHT things – is the work of a CEO as a leader. But for an organization to be truly effective, everyone within the organization, including you the CEO as the leader must be effective –capable of doing the RIGHT things.
You are not exempted from the equation just because you are occupying the highest position. In fact, and this is the most critical factor about your leadership role as a CEO, until you the leader is effective, don’t expect anyone else to be effective.
In other words, you must first become the right kind of leader (effective) before gathering the right kind of people (team) and putting each in the right seat (position) all working collectively in the right direction (vision, goal or objective) for the benefit of the entire organization.
You are the missing piece of the puzzle. Without an effective leader, no organization can be effective. So here is what the complete equation will look like with you the leader inside;
‘right LEADER + right PEOPLE + right POSITIONS + right ACTIONS
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Do you have what it takes to be a CEO?
What are the essential roles of Successful CEOs? A CEO in a very simple term is the leader of an organization. This title is only given to someone who is occupying the highest position in an organization and is solely responsible for the success or failure of the organization.
This means, you are a CEO because of a certain position you occupy (highest management) and certain functions you perform.
As with every position or role, whether in life or business, there are corresponding duties and functions. These duties and functions are collectively called ‘responsibilities’ and they are what clearly separates one position from the other.
Positions are created in order to define and assign certain duties and functions to them. Without functions and duties, positions and roles are useless. A position is determined by its functions.
Being a CEO therefore requires you to carry out certain functions and duties attributed to the position you occupy. Being in that position confers certain responsibilities on you. Success or failure is measured by how well these duties and functions (responsibilities) are carried out. A successful CEO is the individual who performs these required duties and functions exceptionally well.
However, I have realized, especially in our country Nigeria that a lot of people are occupying positions they know nothing about. They simply go about with the “position myth” believing that once they are in the forefront, success is usually attainable. But history has shown time after time that this is not so. Among the many things this article hopes to achieve, first on the list is making you the reader perfectly understand this fact;
“Being a CEO is not about occupying a position (top management) but about performing certain functions and duties (responsibilities)”.
Positions don’t necessarily guarantee success, only functions can. Why? Because where you are (position) is determined by what you do (functions). The moment you stop doing what you ought to be doing, no matter how high above you are, you will ultimately lose that position. It’s only by function that a position is retained.
The 3 Essential Roles Of Successful CEOs
The role of a CEO is a 3-dimensional one involving three major responsibilities. So just as everybody else in your company, you as the boss also have certain key roles in which you have to function. Below is an overview of your work description as a CEO. The whole idea of being your own boss is about to go sour if you are not prepared to do the work that comes with the title.
|THE ROLES OF A CEO||CORRESPONDING RESPONSIBILITIES|
Making the organization Effective –capable of doing the RIGHT things
|Management||Making the organization Efficient –capable of doing things RIGHT|
Making the organization Innovative –capable of doing NEW things
That is a subject for another day; this is just an introduction. Watch out for the part two as this is going to be a series and you need to stay tuned by signing up here! Once you’ve signed up, you are guaranteed to never miss any of our articles because they get delivered straight into your email. SIGN UP TODAY TO GET THE LATEST ARTICLES BY MAIL!
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What does it mean to brand?
It is a deliberate attempt of making what your business, product or service is and can do known to the prospective market or buyer. It involves portraying what makes your business, product or service unique and also communicating its inherent usefulness.
Branding is a marketing tool, and thus, it is a deliberate act. It’s not something you stumble upon; it’s a thing that is creatively developed. A brand is a living entity. It has its own lifespan, personality, and characteristics. Therefore, if you know you can’t make a difference (be useful), don’t try to be different (branding). The following are what you should know about branding – being different (uniqueness) and making a difference (usefulness).
What’s the essence of being different?
- To communicate your difference (uniqueness)
- To be making a difference (usefulness). That is, to be constantly doing something valuable with the thing or idea that makes you different.
There’s no use being different (branding) if you can’t be making a difference (useful). So here are 8 simple steps to follow in order to ensure your branding makes sense;
8 Simple Steps to Successful Branding
(1) To be different you need to have a message.
Your ability to make a difference lies in how well you are able to communicate that message. This is what branding is all about – finding uniqueness and usefulness in what you do and communicating this to the world or the market as the case may be.
(2) To be different, your message must not only be compelling (emotional) it must also be convincing (logical).
Your ability to strike a balance between these two is what guarantees how much influence your brand will be able to command in the marketplace.
(3) To be different you need to focus only on your strength.
No one ever makes a difference with their weakness; to be different it takes strength. Therefore, while working on being different (branding), don’t focus all your efforts And resources on areas that you are weak – not very good at, rather focus on those areas where you and your organization are naturally gifted and good at. This is because people get things done effectively and efficiently with their strength and not their weaknesses.
Don’t try to do everything by being jack of all trade; you will only end up being the master of none, because you would have succeeded at nothing.
(5) To be different, you have to know yourself well.
You can’t claim to be different when you can’t even point to what makes you different (unique). Being different, like I said earlier is communicating a message; a message of what makes your brand unique and useful to the market. Part of communicating that message entails knowing your product and services well, because this is what the market recognizes as your brand. Product or service knowledge is very crucial in your quest to be different.
(6) To be different, you have to spend money.
Marketing costs money! In order to get the best possible returns on your branding agenda, spend your money where your eyes can see them. Don’t put your money where you can’t easily track it, this is why I said focus majorly on your areas of strength. This is where the brand lies, so this is where you should put your resources and efforts.
(7) To be different, you have to be consistent.
You don’t claim to be different in one area today only to find yourself in another field tomorrow. This will confuse the market you are trying to reach. Let them know what you stand for and be ready to stand there for long. Change when it is absolutely necessary and when you have got enough proof to defend the change.
(8) To be different, pick or choose a ground where you are absolutely sure of winning.
It costs a lot to be different; don’t waste your time, money and effort on an idea that is not likely to sell. Be careful, being different is not the same as being stupid!
While choosing your brand message; that is the message that you will use to make and communicate your difference (brand); don’t pick a message you can’t defend. Be sure to have all it takes to defend that message. Your ability to defend the message consistently is what it means to be a brand.
Ask yourself if you have got the human, financial, material and technical resources needed to successfully enforce that message. Remember, the whole essence of branding (being different) is to make a difference (be useful). So if you can’t or don’t have what it takes to enforce that message (make a difference) don’t bother picking the message (being different); look for another message or wait till when you can defend that message.
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