Rational or emotional?
Too often, however, leaders use the achievement of financial goals as their purpose, because they are more comfortable being rational and objective. Too often, as we noted in Chapter 3, followers say they don’t get out of bed in the morning to achieve financial or other numerical objectives. They come to work and want to be inspired by a sense of doing something important, something that makes a difference.
Which one to choose? My answer is that a great vision needs to contain both of these elements, in order to satisfy both constituents. Leaders need to create a framework that enables decision making and empowers front-line staff to succeed without having to go up and down the chain of command. In an age of blinding speed, radical transparency and connected consumers, we do not have the luxury of command and control processes. We need to enable leadership everywhere, and this can only be done by providing a framework for freedom of decision making.
I believe that the ‘vision thing’ is all about telling a story that is both emotional and rational. The vision of the future needs to describe the commercial goals of the business, but it also needs to describe what success will ‘feel’ like to all the stakeholders who will benefit from that success – whether this be shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers or even local communities. Feelings and emotions are the driving force of our lives. It is why I put so much emphasis on the word ‘feel’.
Great communication has to be about feelings as much as it is about facts. Head and heart. Your vision framework needs to contain elements that are uplifting and inspiring, as well as elements that are about clear goal setting and prioritization.
What elements should such a framework contain if it is to provide employees with a complete picture of the strategic intent of the business? I believe it should have two sides to it.