Living the Vision

If you had read books on leadership, you would have known about the importance of setting a mission and a vision, and the job lies with the boss of the organisation. The purpose of having a mission and a vision is to align everyone to the same goals and to let all employee know what the company stands for. A good vision inspires all to follow, and their actions in the course of their work would reflect the common values that a company has.

However, I am sure that anyone who has worked for a living would realise that it isn’t that simple. A vision could be set, but nobody would follow. An important point to note is that the managers and supervisors down the line from the boss to the lowest ranked employee is responsible for carrying the vision. They should share in the vision and their actions should be aligned to the vision so that their direct reports could be influenced likewise.

It is now opportune to introduce the concept of the Toxic Leader. The Toxic Leader can be found in most organisations. He does not believe in the vision and has a mind of his own. His character can single-handedly destroy the passion anyone below him has for the vision. If you do anything that he does not believe in, he disapproves and you feel unvalued.

An organisation may decide that it is important to conduct team communication sessions in order to build team spirit and understanding. A Toxic Leader will frown and that and think it is a waste of time.

An organisation may decide that it is important for work life harmony and introduce advisories against managers from contacting staff about work beyond 7pm. A Toxic Leader doesn’t care and still calls you anyway.

Day after day the employees get frustrated because the things that are set in place to build workplace happiness and effectiveness are not done. Some feel that the organisation doesn’t care. But doesn’t it? The organisation cares; it is the Toxic Leader that does not. Talented employees might choose to leave one by one, leaving behind people who might just be as toxic as the Toxic Leader. The company has a vision, but no one to carry it out.

The thing is, one of the more important aspects a manager or leader should have is to “Agree to Disagree”, only after due effort has been spent communicating the arguments from each side. After the discussion is finalised, the boss makes a decision and everyone else can only follow. Not only follow, but they have to live by the decision, and live by the vision.

But of course this is a rather simplified story. Reality is much more complicated than that. The boss has the responsibility to make the right decisions, but in reality sometimes the boss makes the wrong decision and the managers might be right. The boss has the responsibility to influence such that everyone is committed and hence no Toxic Leaders are formed. In reality, the boss might be too busy to do such a thing, and leave Toxic Leaders to do their work. The bosses will not know the situation, because employees under the Toxic Leader are more likely to feel unsecure enough to report their Toxic Leader’s wrongdoing.

The morale of this entire blog post is: Down the line from the boss to the managers and supervisors, we have our role to play. Many times we think of a vision as the responsibility of the boss. However it is also the responsibility of us, as the managers and supervisors, to live out the vision no matter how busy we are. Be self aware of what we are doing and saying, and make sure that we do not become the kind of Toxic Leader that we didn’t like when we started out in the industry.

2 thoughts on “Living the Vision

  1. It is easier said than done especially in a bigger company.

    In a big company, manager is really a nobody. They have only 2 items in their agenda. 1. To keep their job. 2. To impress their boss. In order to do so, they will start to “create task” for the team. These new tasks could have absolute no values to the organization but they could argue this to higher management that “hey, you can’t make my team redundant. We are needed to do these”

    The better manager could even turn the things around and sell the ideas to the higher management that they have initiated new things in the workflow.

    Whether or not these are inline with the mission or vision of the company? It really depends on how you sell it at least that is in my opinion.

  2. Hi Neo,

    Appreciate your comment.

    I agree it is easier said than done. I do not doubt that. The intent of the post was more of describing someone who does not live the vision and makes decisions and actions that run differently from the vision. Which we will realise that it happens more often than not. Your example is just another example of a toxic leader.

    A manager is not a nobody. A manager is somebody to his subordinates and he has the power to make the lives of his subordinates hell or more bearable. We all have influences, it is just to which extent. To say that they only have 2 items in their agenda is unfair and do no justice to the fine work of other managers. For one, I think I am considered a manager, yet I pay no attention to impressing the boss, but I get more excited at trying to build the team the way I want it to be. Perhaps I might be an anomaly, but people like me exist.

    But the main gist is, the purpose of the mission and vision is to clarify what the company needs to do and how to do it. Values are cascaded to help remind all of the positive traits. Good leaders and managers of varying rank in the hierarchy would do their part to make the mission, vision and values a part of their daily lives. The company will then be very successful. Yes, it is how you sell it, but in many cases it is more of whether you choose to sell it or break it. You are right to say it is not easy, which is why most companies are not ultra-successful ones.

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