Posts Tagged ‘vision’

Exceptional Leaders Enliven Vision through Infectiousness

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

In a recent post (March 26), I wrote about effective communication as one of the 12 behaviors of exceptional leaders  identified by Travis Bradberry, president of TalentSmart & co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Today’s topic is another of the 12: infectiousness.

Infectiousness isn’t a trait that usually is cited as a key leadership skill, but I suspect it’s because that trait is often described differently. It could fall under the oft-mentioned “charisma,” “charm” or “engaging personality,” or a number of other descriptors. Infectiousness also could be encompassed in other characteristics, particularly passion, which is another of the 12 behaviors on Bradberry’s list. But I like the fact that he calls out infectiousness to stand on its own because unless the leader’s passion is expressed in a way that employees “catch the bug,” it won’t have a lasting effect.

As Bradberry explains, “Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. You have to make that vision come alive so that your followers can see it just as clearly as you do. Great leaders do that by telling stories and painting verbal pictures so that everyone can understand not just where they’re going, but what it will look and feel like when they get there. This inspires others to internalize the vision and make it their own.”

untitledStarbucks’ Howard Schultz is a great example of infectiousness. First, he looks for employees who share his customer-centered values,  including a desire to contribute to their community. Building on his belief that “people want to be part of something larger than themselves,” new employees, or “partners,” as Starbucks calls them, undergo 24 hours of classroom training. The company also pays for additional workshops and classes that partners choose to take.

New senior leaders are put through a four-month “immersion in the Starbucks culture” to ensure that everyone understands the coffee business from start to finish. And Schultz emphasizes the values that comprise the culture by sharing his “unbridled enthusiasm and love” for the company at regularly-held district meetings.

Quoting the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

Eileen Fisher Keeps It Simple

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Her early years in Illinois seemed to offer no hint that she would one day be a well-known New York fashion designer. For 12 years she wore uniforms to school–a requirement most students dislike intensely but she found freeing–and then declared a math major in college. Her plans for the future were a far cry from living in Tribeca and launching a fashion career. So how did Eileen Fisher discover that she had a vision and a talent for fashion design?

After admiring–and owning–a number of Eileen Fisher garments over the past 25 years or so, I was intrigued by an interview with her in Fortune describing how she got her start. As the article reveals, she actually developed sewing skills and a love of fabric while growing up in a household where her mother sewed much of the clothing for her six daughters. And when Fisher no longer needed to wear a uniform to school, she hated shopping because she couldn’t find what she wanted, and she found it very  time-consuming to decide what to wear each day. It seemed to her that finding, selecting and wearing well-coordinated outfits each day should be simpler.

The influence of a college roommate’s coursework in interior design led Fisher to realize she, too, loved working with fabric. She changed her major to home economics, then took the opportunity to move to New York’s Soho with a roommate, and struck up a friendship with a sculptor. Surrounded by creative minds and influenced by observations on a trip to Japan, she eventually formulated her vision for a fashion collection based on–no surprise here–the concept of simplicity!

Her first collection of four garments were displayed at a show in 1984 where she sold orders to eight stores. At the next show a year later she had doubled her collection to eight garments and had a line of buyers waiting to place orders. She was on her way!

“Keep it simple” is a mantra we all need to remember as we go through daily activities. Simplicity is the key to communications, the basis for many wonderful culinary creations, and the key to achieving work/life balance. What ideas do you have for simplifying life? How can you make your job a bit easier, or help other people simplify their lives? Who knows? You just may launch a new career!