Vision, Hope and Leadership (excerpt)

View of distant mountain through filtered sunlight
Vision is not merely a viewpoint or is focused awareness.

Many groups lack the foresight or level of planning required to take an organization beyond the early stages of development. For some, that’s fine; they may not need to have long-range planning. However, if an organization wants to make a real impact on their little portion of the world (aka, Mission and Vision Statements), they have to get past the initial blush of enthusiasm and break out of the limitations implicit in working without a plan. But, even with a plan, organizations require far more than that.

Sometimes, through fortunate circumstances or enormous effort on the part of the whole organization to keep things growing organically (I’ve seen this happen…it’s a wondrous and RARE turn of events). For the rest, it means either the organization will hobble along, perhaps doing okay and sustaining itself on generous donations of time and effort, OR, they begin the other natural result…dissolution. This can happen slowly, even imperceptibly, over a long period of time; usually, the money or volunteers…or both…dry up. The stalwart few hold on to the remnants as long as is humanly possible; unfortunately, this rarely works in the long run.

So, back to my theme of Vision, Hope and Leadership, it may take a village to raise a child, but it takes careful planning, strong, consistent vision and stellar leadership to navigate the rivers of business success. Without hope, however, no amount of planning, leadership or even money, will assure success. This is especially true of the not-for-profit business venture. I have noticed, over the course of my tenures with various Boards, past and present, that when hope flags, so does the organization. The question naturally arises: how does an organization maintain a healthy dose of hope?

Hope is one of those intangible assets which can never be measured, bought or borrowed.  It must be present and sustained by those in the position to provide leadership and vision. Hope is like water, it can easily run through the metaphorical “fingers” of an organization if it’s not contained with some degree of effort on the part of those whose mission—and, therefore, “job”—it is. Equally unfortunate, for leadership of almost every kind, two common issues arise. One is to take the “job” too seriously; the other is to take oneself too seriously. For me, this has been truly been a life lesson.

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