The meeting starts off well enough; you catch up on the weekend, and then the agenda items start rolling. Things seem pretty clear at first, but then your meeting is hit with a needed decision. Everyone shares their points of view, but all the proposed decisions are different. Who finally decides which option to choose? Sometimes, it is the loudest person in the room who directs the decision. Maybe it is the one with the most tenure or who is most eloquent in their reasoning. Or even worse, sometimes it is the person the group knows will get the most upset if their decision is not chosen.
All of these scenarios are lousy reasons to make a decision. A leader is needed; not just to make the decision, but to remind the group what the decision will do to contribute to the vision, rallying everyone behind it. You see, a leader in these situations provides something that no one in a group of peers is able to provide—constant direction to one common purpose. If there is no leader, the perspectives of many contributors start to rush in, confusing the way forward.
Bill Hybles, in his book Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs, describes this phenomenon as “vision leaks.” What this means is that, as humans, we forget everything; our memory is a leaking bucket. We forget what we are trying to do all the time. This is why we make lists, use project management software, even tie bows on our fingers. But these leaky memories can lead us to forget one of the most important things—the “why” behind what we’re doing. The “why” is what drives us with passion and unites us with our team. The “why” is what encourages us to be decisive and gets the whole team behind our decisions. If we forget the why, then the vision is gone and this opens the door to poor decision making.
Without the leader’s vision constantly filling our leaky buckets, the “leaking” commences and people start to fill it with false ideas of what it is supposed to be. This frequently starts a small, unnoticeable, ever-so-slight shift of the vision; shifting it from what the leader intended to, eventually, a whole new unintentional path, made one decision at a time.
So, as a leader, do you need to be involved in every single decision? Absolutely not! But your vision does. Your vision needs to be at the heart of every decision made, from the executive meeting to the front counter. Instead of asking yourself, “does everyone know (or remember) the direction we are going?” know that the vision will naturally leak and that the best way to make sure the right decision is being made is to constantly be filling up the vision buckets of those who make them.
This week, look for ways to share your vision in every meeting you have. Then do it again next week.