By Ron Karr
As senior executives, one of the responsibilities you are charged with can be best described by the quote from Wayne Gretsky, “I go to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” Any forward-thinking company that wants to stay at the head of the pack needs to imbed this philosophy as the backbone for making all decisions. But what skills are required for an executive to lead by this philosophy, and what are the common traps one is likely to encounter? The first and most important skill is the ability to visualize the end result.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO VISUALIZE?
It all starts with an idea. You know the ideas we get unexpectedly. Like when you walk down the street in a blighted neighborhood and see a building that someday you believe will be valued real estate. But then your next thought is “Nah, that will never happen,” and you walk away. Twenty years later you happen to drive by that location, and you kick yourself for not acting on your intuition. And then you are completely ticked off when you see your competition doing what you thought about initially but never acted on.
To use vision properly to help create new ideas and improve productivity and market differentiation, you need to start with a clean slate. Forget about what you know the world to be. Simply start writing down your thoughts on where your company and/or department must go. Do not entertain thoughts as to why this cannot happen based on today’s reality. Hold your vision in your conscious mind. As you hold this vision in your conscious thoughts, ideas start to happen, actions become apparent, and you are on the road to creating a new reality.
The key behaviors you must exhibit are the need to trust your instincts, believe in your vision, and to be okay with the fact you don’t have the answers initially. Many people stop because they don’t have the answers. Leadership is about creating a vision first for solving problems and then going about finding the answers and implementation.
This is exactly what we did with a multinational chemical manufacturer engaged in a critical competitive situation. They had created a technological advance in the market only to see its position erode to competition. When they hired me to help reposition them with their largest customer who was only giving them 25% of their business, we started with a clean sheet of paper and captured their vision. The end result was an industry first where the client was awarded a 10-year negotiated agreement (no bid) valued at $200 million. This was for what was once perceived as a commodity product and now is viewed as essential for their customer’s success.
It all starts with vision. What is your vision today? Are you capturing it? Don’t worry about not having the answers. They will come if you are committed to it and hold it in your conscious thoughts at all times. This is what successful leaders do.
Ron Karr is CEO of Karr Associates, Inc., a firm that specializes in business transformation. His advisory services and highly rated keynotes and workshops have generated well over half a billion dollars in incremental revenues for his clients. Ron is the author of the best-selling book Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way and will be the 2013-2014 president of the National Speakers Association.