Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Leading with Vision in a Challenging Economy

As organizations everywhere deal with the changes demanded by a challenging economy, I find myself extremely focused on business strategy. This is especially true for me during budget development season! To live out its mission as an organization, it is clear that now more than ever its leadership must be disciplined and sensible. It is of utmost importance to identify a course and do everything to stay on that path.

While a wise business plan is essential, a potential side effect of that mentality is the tendency to become so calculated about our plan, so myopic as we pore over the details, that we forget about our ultimate mission. As I’ve been contemplating this, I came across an excerpt from Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers in an eBook by Seth Godin. Michael Hyatt says this about vision:

Vision is the lifeblood of any organization. It is what keeps it moving forward. It provides meaning to the day-to-day challenges and setbacks that make up the rumble and tumble of real life.

In a down economy—particularly one that has taken most of us by surprise—things get very tactical. We are just trying to survive. What worked yesterday does not necessarily work today. What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. Decisions become pragmatic.

But after a while this wears on people. They don’t know why their efforts matter. They cannot connect their actions to a larger story. Their work becomes a matter of just going through the motions, living from weekend to weekend, paycheck to paycheck.

This is where great leadership makes all the difference. Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build—and why it matters. It is about painting a picture of a better future. It comes down to pointing the way and saying, “C’mon. We can do this!”

When times are tough, vision is the first causality. Before conditions can improve, it is the first thing we must recover.

Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He blogs on “Leading with Purpose” at MichaelHyatt.com and also Twitters @MichaelHyatt.

So, I guess it’s a good time to remind ourselves, and myself, about our corporate vision. So, here's Work Systems’ mission, vision, and promise:

MISSION – Empowering individuals with health solutions that enable them to get well and stay well.
VISION – Healthy people... body, mind, and spirit.
OUR PROMISE – Work Systems will consistently demonstrate dependability, trustworthiness, respect as we empower individuals with functional health solutions.

Here’s to a successful and healthy 2010! My prayer is that you will recognize the larger story that you’re writing by your daily efforts. I pray that you live out that vision, both individually and collectively. And I pray that you understand just how much you matter. To realize the mission, your organization needs you.

Get well! Stay well!

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