Confused Leadership

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore Hesburgh

A leader's legacy is the impact they create - on net worth, accelerated growth, and future leaders. Leaders are chosen to take decisions leading to radical growth. These decisions often carry potential for immense transformation, as well as risk.

A direct and measurable impact of this is most visible through changes in stock prices and estimated net worth. Another impact of these decisions is internally, on employee morale, productivity, churn rate and costs. Internal chaos within Uber when the leadership crisis unfolded in 2017 is one of many such well-documented cases. A first principles approach works well in these situations. The organization, team or project vision is the one basic aspect that remains unchanged in all situations. A well-structured core vision works to set the guiding basis for leadership free from an individual's beliefs, intuitions and actionsEffective leadership comes from leading with a purpose to fulfil a vision, a vision that is larger than designation of the leader. This vision is the true north that every team member, stake holder, and leader can continue to draw inspiration from (A janitor helped NASA put first man on moon).

While visions are the true north for the reason for existence of an organization, its goal, they are not set in stone. Tesla’s vision initially was to accelerate the world's transition to electric vehicles. However, the team realized with time that having a limited vision sets a long-term goal. The vision had to be something that leaders and contributors of all present and future generations could take inspiration from. For this, the vision was subsequently changed to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. 

Amazon, a major eCommerce retailer, began with the vision of being the earth’s most customer centric company. The organization has retained this vision for over twenty years and finds inspiration from it.

Leadership driven by vision is core to steps taken to achieve the vision – from process breakdown, strategy formulation, team building, goal setting, to achieving results. Often, cross-functional teams work on various aspects of this vision, their collective understanding of their role in the big picture of achieving the vision is what drives a meaningful engagement, and purposeful impact.

Individuals also often set goals or visions for themselves to keep working towards self-improvement. Many leaders have often talked about their experiences in life, aspirations from themselves and desire to leave a better future are themes that guide their actions. For instance, Steve Jobs asked himself every morning what he wanted to do on this day to help him leave an impactful legacy.