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Effective Leaders Commit and Communicate Their Vision

· Strategic Comm,Leadership
Anneshia Hardy | The Hardy Exchange
Did you know that Oprah Winfrey, early in her career, was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was deemed “unfit for TV?” How ironic is it that Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times.  In addition, one of the greatest basketball players, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Despite their rejections, the aforementioned individuals became successful in their respective industry as a result of their commitment to their vision.  Today, they are all considered pioneers and leaders in their field and often sought after for advice regarding various elements pertaining to their field.
It is vital for leaders to have clear vision..
Leadership is about successfully heading in the right direction and being able to take others with you. Therefore, as a leader, knowing where you are heading requires a clear vision. So often, I’ve heard the phrase, “having a clear strategy will lead your organization into the right direction".  Vision and strategy are both essential, but vision should always come first. In my professional and personal experiences, once I decided on the “What” the “How” began to fall into place. Much of my professional activities, during the last few years, have been part of a strategy centered around the core of my vision.  Case in point, when I initially decided to launch a strategic communications and marketing firm, many of my colleagues in the financial service industry could not fathom the idea of a financial savvy individual with years of experience in the market successfully developing and managing a communications and marketing firm. It just didn’t add up. However, what they didn’t know was that I had a VISION of greatly impacting the field of communications and media studies and launching my own firm was part of building a personal brand and network in the field. Unknowingly to my colleagues, I would soon pursue advance scholarship (PhD in 2018) in the field to add to my credibility which would also open doors for me to achieve several objectives within my plan.
Vision before Strategy? | Strategy before Vision? 
Let’s think this through together:
If you are planning a summer vacation, do you first plan how you are going to get there? Or do you decide where you are going? In terms of vision and strategy, your vision is your destination, whereas, your method and means of getting there is your strategy. Got it? 
As an organization leader, having a clear vision will assist you in making the right choices because your decisions are centered on the end result. A clear vision builds trust, motivation, and collaboration between a leader and their followers. After developing your organization's vision, the next step is to communicate the vision to inspire shared meaning and purpose. By communicating your vision, you will ignite excitement, motivation, and unity between yourself and your followers.  An effective method to successfully communicate your vision is through continuous dialogue. In order to keep followers engaged around your vision, it must be communicated in various forms.  Effective leaders have the ability to articulate an organization's vision in exciting and enthusiastic ways. They often illustrate the vision by using metaphors, celebrations, luncheons, stories, analogies, and organization rituals and traditions.  If your organization has an effective leader, they are more than likely able to mobilize employees to action when needed.
Communicating the vision is not just a one-way communication process from leader to follower; rather it is a two-way sharing process that also involves listening. Listening is one of the most vital components of communication for effective leaders. An effective leader should listen in order to understand their followers’ needs, perception, and concerns. In order to achieve this level of understanding, a leader should ask exploratory questions along with giving and receiving feedback. In doing the above, a leader exhibits the willingness to be influenced and to use their knowledge to further shape their vision.

Effective leaders consistently lead by example. Moreover, they are very conscious that their actions are under great scrutiny by their followers to verify if their actions line up with their words. Being consistent builds trust and reliability. Would you follow someone one Tuesday if Monday they told you to go West when the accurate direction was in fact East, but for some reason they went North? I for one would think twice about it! In addition, effective leaders also communicate through their physical presence. A leader should not feel distant or out of touch. A follower should feel as if they have access to their leader whether it is for informative purposes or just to be encouraged.

In conclusion, without effective leadership, organizations could become slow, stagnate, and lack focus and direction. Organization leaders influence employee behavior, company culture, and can help overcome resistance.  Effective leadership is an essential component for assisting an organization in achieving success.  It is imperative that an organization leader has a clear vision.  Effective leaders help develop effective employees. Most importantly, through a clear vision leaders are able to convert possibility into reality. 

Remember, if you focus on the “What”, the “How” will fall into place.

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