April 24, 2019

Visionary Leadership for Operations Management

Aligned Vision, Task Completion capability (with Effectiveness and Efficiency), Happy Employees and Supply Chain Partners - Three Dimensions of Importance in Operations Management

                                      Picture source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

Stage 3 Leadership - David El Berlew - Leadership and Organizational Excitement

Stage 3 leadership  comprises of  custodial,  managerial and charismatic  leadership.  The word "charisma" has been used in many ways with many meanings. Berlew defines it  in terms of three different types or classes of leadership behavior which provide meaning to work find generate organizational excitement. These are:
• the development of a "common vision' organization related to values shared organization's members;
• the discovery or creation of value opportunities and activities within the work of the mission and goals of the tion; and
• making organization members feel and more in control of their own destiny individually and collectively.

The first requirement for Stage 3 or leadership is a comm on or shared vision the future could be. To provide mean generate excitement, such a common vision must reflect goals or a future state of affairs valued by the organization's members thus important to them to bring about.

All inspirational speeches or writings have the common element of some vision or dream of a better existence which will inspire or excite those who share the author's values. This basic wisdom has to be incorporated in managerail practice.

Characteristics of Visionary Leadership

In describing the characteristics of visionary leaders, David Berlew (1974) purports that the first requirement for Stage 3 leadership is the existence of a common or shared vision for the future of
the organization. He states that "all inspirational speeches or writings have the common element of some vision or dream of a better existence which will inspire or excite those who share the author's
values" (1974, p. 24) . He claims "a vision, no matter how well articulated, will not excite or provide meaning for individuals whose values are different from those implied by the vision" (1974, p. 24), Berlew states that no matter how well articulated, a vision that is not congruent with the values and beliefs (or individual visions) of the subordinates will not be accepted. Therefore, the vision must arise from the values of the group being led. It is not just created by the leader and then "sold" to the subordinates. Berlew states, "one problem for heads of complex organizations is that . . . they must represent and articulate the hopes and goals of many different groups. . . . Only the exceptional leader can instinctively identify and articulate the common vision relevant to such diverse groups" (1974,
p. 24) .

Another quality of the exceptional leader is the ability to act consistently in accordance with the vision. "The effectiveness of the common vision depends upon the leader's ability to 'walk the talk':

Bennis and Nanus in their research found that  leaders were all concerned primarily with the organizations ' basic purpose and were "vision-oriented" (1985, p. 21) . They identified four areas of competency ("strategies") that all of these leaders embodied. Strategy I is attention through vision . The leader clearly articulates a compelling results-oriented vision for the future that grows out of the needs of the entire organization. Bennis and Nanus claim, "Leaders are the most results-oriented individuals in the world, and results get attention. Their visions are compelling and pull people toward them" (1985, p. 28)

Strategy II is meaning through communication . The leader influences and organizes meaning and interprets events for the members of the organization in a way that fosters creation of the vision. "An
essential factor in leadership is the capacity to influence and organize meaning for the members of the organization" (Bennis and Nanus , 1985, p. 39)

Strategy III is trust through positioning . Trust is created and subordinates accept the vision when the leader is "reliable and tirelessly persistent" (Bennis and Nanus, 1985, p. 45) . The leader acts consistently with the vision which creates trust in the leadership. The leader communicates through actions his/her commitment to the vision. "Leaders acquire and wear their visions like clothes" (Bennis and Nanus, 1985, p. 46). This concept is similar to Berlew's (1974) description of the importance of the leader's willingness to "walk the talk."

Strategy IV is deployment of the self through positive self-regard and through the "Wallenda Factor." It is important to have self confidence and to maintain one's focus on the vision, not the obstacles. These leaders, like Karl Wallenda, the tightrope aerialist, "simply don't think about failure, don't even use the word (Bennis and Nanus, 1985, p. 69) . Mistakes are not considered failures because they lead to new learnings.

The ability to articulate and define reality and the vision for the future is especially important in the change process, in transforming organizations, where the social architecture must be revamped
(1985, p. 139) . Bennis and Nanus state that "for a successful transformation to be achieved, three things have to happen . . . [the leader must] 1) create a new and compelling vision capable of bringing the work force to a new place, 2) develop commitment for the new vision, and 3) institutionalize the new vision" (1985, pp. 140-141).

Mary Parker Follett (1941) supports this concept in her statement: . . . the most successful leader of all is one who sees another picture not yet actualized. He sees the things which belong in his present picture but which are not yet there. . . . Above all, he should make his co-workers see that it is not his purpose which is to be achieved, but a common purpose, bom of the desires and the activities of the group, (pp. 143-144)

According to Bennis and Nanus (1985) , commitment is created, achieving the "alignment" within the organization around a common vision, by helping co-workers realize that one's vision is in fact a common vision. They state: A vision cannot be established in an organization by edict, or by the exercise of power or coercion. It is more of an act of persuasion, of creating an enthusiastic and dedicated commitment to a vision because it is right for the times, right for the organization, and right for the people who are working in it. (p. 107)

Bennis and Nanus (1985) agree with Berlew (19 74) that "if the organization is to be successful, the image must grow out of the needs of the entire organization and must be 'claimed' or 'owned' by all the important actors" (Bennis and Nanus, 1985, p. 109). Bennis and Nanus also agree with Berlew that the vision must begin at the top of the organization and is the responsibility of the CEO (chief executive officer) who "articulates the vision and gives it legitimacy" (Bennis and Nanus, 1985, pp. 109 and 141)

Sashkin (1986) discusses thinking processes used by visionary leaders. He describes visionary leaders as being able to think in terms of long time spans (10 to 20 years or more) in order to conceptualize long-range visions. He terms this characteristic "cognitive ability" which is derived from the work of Elliott Jacques' (1964) theory of "time span of discretion." Sashkin (1986) further describes four processes or thinking skills that visionary leaders use in creation of a vision. The first skill is called "expressing the vision" and involves performing actions to make it real such as meeting with involved people or writing a policy. The second step involves "explaining" the vision or describing the actions required. The third skill is "extending" the vision, the ability to apply the necessary actions to a variety of situations. The fourth skill is called "expanding" the vision and involves applying it not just in a variety of similar ways but in a wide range of circumstances.

Sashkin (1988) identifies three critical elements of visionary leadership. The first element involves personality prerequisites concerning the leader's need for power and the four cognitive skills described above. The second element involves the leader's understanding of "key content dimensions" that are essential for an effective vision and which are based on certain functions that define the organization's culture. Sashkin describes three underlying themes that constitute an effective vision: dealing with change effectively, developing high-standard and important goals, and providing ways that people can work together and feel ownership for the vision. The third element involves the leader's ability to articulate the vision through certain behavioral skills which are used to implement programs and policies that reflect the leader's organizational philosophy.

Kiefer and Stroh (1984, p. 182) state these leaders are able to:

1. Create and commianicate a personal and organizational vision to which they are wholeheartedly committed,
2. Catalyze alignment around a common vision.
3. Revitalize and recommit to the vision in the face of obstacles
4. Understand an organization as a complex system whose structure may enable or thwart realization of the vision. Develop (or change) structures as needed to support the vision.
5. Empower themselves and empower others.
6. Develop intuition as a complement to rational thinking.

Kouzes and Posner (1987) report the results of a study where over 500 executives were asked to describe their "personal best" leadership experiences. From analysis of responses, they determined consistent leadership practices that involved five strategies. The first is "challenging the process" or looking for new innovative ways to do things. The second is "inspiring a shared vision." The third is
"enabling others to act" or empowering others. The fourth is "modeling the way," which is similar to Berlew's (1974) concept of "walk the talk." The fifth is "encouraging the heart," which involves celebration and recognition of successes along the way.

Kouzes and Posner (1987) describe ten behavioral commitments that visionary leaders exhibit (p. 14) . These commitments are listed below with the strategy to which they relate.

Challenging the Process
1. Search for Opportunities
2 . Experiment and Take Risks Inspiring a Shared Vision
3. Envision the Future
4 . Enlist Others Enabling Others to Act
5. Foster Collaboration
6 . Strengthen Others Modeling the Way
7. Set the Example
8. Plan Small Wins Encouraging the Heart
9. Recognize Individual Contribution
10. Celebrate Accomplishments

Abraham Zaleznik (1977) describes the following characteristics of Stage 3 leaders. He refers to these leaders as "twice-born" personalities, who search for change; who possess an imaginative capacity to visualize purposes; who have the ability to communicate it to others; and who are able to generate value in their work. He compares these leaders to Stage 2 leaders which he refers to as "once-born" personalities.

Value of a Clear Vision for Groups

The process of creating, articulating, and agreeing upon a vision for a group elucidates the purpose of the group (Kiefer and Stroh, 1984) . When the purpose of the group is clear, members move more
easily in the same direction with less conflict and are able to agree upon goals and objectives more easily.

Allen and Kraft (1984) assert an advantage of articulating a clear, agreed-upon vision and the resulting goals for groups is that this process directly influences the group's norms. Norms are the
implicit and explicit expectations held by group members about acceptable group behavior (Schein, 1969, p. 59). Allen and Kraft (1984) describe norms as "the building blocks of our cultures-those expected, accepted, and supported ways of behaving that determine so much of what we do" (p. 93) .

Allen and Kraft (1984) assert that influencing norms is essential in any change process, a concept which is supported by Kanter (1983)
Allen and Kraft (1984) maintain that a focus on a clear, articulated vision for a group facilitates the development of helpful norms for a group.

Kiefer and Stroh (1984) also speak to the power of having a clear vision for a group. They state, "A vision has the capacity to motivate people far more effectively than a precisely defined solution" (p.
174) . They maintain, "The vision embodies people's highest values and aspirations (for self-actualization, excellence, service and community) . It inspires people- to rise above their fears and preoccupations with current reality" (p. 174)

Bennis and Nanus (1985) state, "Vision animates, inspirits, transforms purpose into action" (.p. 30) . They offer a description by Jerry Neely of how a clear vision influenced daily functioning in Smith
International, a major manufacturer of oil drilling and rigging equipment: "The employees were willing to take a chance because they felt part of something magic and they wanted to work that extra hour or make that extra call, or stay that extra Saturday" (p. 216)

Vision in Peak Performing Organizations

Kiefer and Senge (1984) and Kiefer and Stroh (1984) describe visionary or high performing organizations as ones where all members are aligned around a powerful, unifying vision. Kiefer and Stroh (1984) assert that these organizations are capable of inspired performance and have attained the highest levels in both organizational performance and in human satisfaction (p. 171) . The organization operates with viction that it can shape its own destiny (Kiefer and Senge, 1984, p.
70) . This viewpoint is grounded in the interpretive paradigm described by Smircich (1983) and Weick (1979) which asserts it is possible to affect one's sense of reality through the meaning one assigns to events. Stroh (1984), Kiefer and Senge (1984), Kiefer (1983) et al. assert that it is possible to create whatever one wants and that people and organizations need not be bound by current circumstances or limited by outside forces. For example, perhaps an organization might define a new product line developed by a competing organization as an obstacle or a limiting factor. The peak performing organization would maintain its focus on its purpose or vision, not the obstacle, and
might define the obstacle as a "challenge" or "test" or "step" in move- ment toward the vision. In other words, the peak performing organization would use the "obstacle" to its own advantage instead of fighting it or giving up, while another organization might limit itself in the face of the "obstacle."

Kiefer and Senge (1984) state that the unifying principle of these high performing organizations is that "individuals aligned around an appropriate vision can have an extraordinary influence in the world" (p. 70) . This principle forms the basis for a coherent organizational philosophy with five primary elements:

(1) a deep sense of vision or purposefulness,
(2) alignment around that vision,
( 3) empowering people
(4) structural integrity,
(5) the balance of reason and intuition

Bennis, Warren and Nanus, Bert. Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge . New York: Harper and Row, 1985.

Berlew, David E. "Leadership and Organizational Excitement," in California Management Review , 1974, 17, 21-30.

Follett, Mary Parker. Dynamic Administration . New York: Harper and Row, 1941.

Jacques. Elliott. Ti.e-Span Handbook. London: Hainemann. 1964.

Sashkin, Marshall "The Visionary Leader," Training and Development Journal, 1986 May.

Doctoral Dissertation 1988

Visionary leadership, management, and high performing work units : an analysis of workers perceptions.
Madelyn Jessica Stoner-Zemel
University of Massachusetts Amherst


Visionary Leadership - Leadership Competency - Strategic Alignment

Visionary leadership, the communication of a future image of a collective with the intention to persuade others to contribute to its realization, is widely seen as a particularly effective way of mobilizing and motivating followers.

We take stock of the state of the science in visionary leadership and conclude that conclusions regarding the effectiveness of visionary leadership are overly optimistic at least in the sense that the existing evidence base leaves much to be desired.

We identify methodological and conceptual issues to take into consideration in moving the study of visionary leadership forward.

Visionary leadership is widely seen as key to strategic change. That’s because visionary leadership does not just set the strategic direction — it tells a story about why the change is worth pursuing and inspires people to embrace the change. Not surprisingly, then, science and practice have a very positive view of visionary leadership as a critical leadership competency.

But research finds that the positive impact of visionary leadership breaks down when middle managers aren’t aligned with top management’s strategic vision. This can cause strategic change efforts to slow down or even fail.

Visionary leadership is not just important for senior managers; it also matters for middle and lower level managers, who play a key role in carrying out strategic change. Their ability to inspire their own teams and create strategic alignment — a shared understanding of and commitment to the company’s strategy — within them is a core element in successful strategy execution.

Google’s data-driven Project Oxygen identified visionary leadership as one of the eight traits of stellar middle managers.

When middle managers were aligned with top management’s strategic vision, things played out as the widespread view of visionary leadership would suggest: the more these managers engaged in visionary leadership (by communicating their vision for the future and articulating where they wanted their team to be in five years,) the greater the shared understanding of strategy in their team, and the more the team was committed to strategy execution.

For managers that were misaligned with the company strategy, however, the dark side of visionary leadership became evident. The more these misaligned managers displayed visionary leadership, the less strategic alignment and commitment were observed among their teams.

Out interview findings extended these results. Employees of misaligned visionary managers indicated that their managers created confusion and uncertainty about what the company strategy entailed. This disengaged their teams from the company strategy.

Whereas visionary leadership thus was a positive force when managers were aligned with the company strategy, it became a negative force standing in the way of strategic alignment when the middle manager’s vision diverged from the company’s.

The importance of these findings lies in the fact that they caution against what is common practice in many companies. Many companies invest heavily in leadership development. Almost invariably, visionary leadership is seen as a crucial leadership competency in such efforts.

At the same time, companies tend to invest markedly less in creating strategic alignment among their managers.  Research on strategy execution has documented, however, that there are a range of reasons for why managers may not be aligned with company strategy. Managers’ strategic alignment cannot be assumed as a given.

How do you ensure that managers are aligned on your company’s strategy? strategic alignment  starts with creating strategic alignment among middle managers before strategy execution efforts begin. This should not be one-time communication but a dialogue; people will only take ownership of strategic change if they are consistently persuaded by its value.

Why Visionary Leadership Fails

Nufer Yasin Ates, Murat Tarakci Jeanine P. PorckDaan van KnippenbergPatrick Groenen
HBR, February 2019

Colette M. Taylor, Casey J. Cornelius, Kate Colvin, (2014) "Visionary leadership and its relationship to organizational effectiveness", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 35 Issue: 6, pp.566-583, https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-10-2012-0130

Visionary Leadership: Creating Scenes that Change the Future

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Are You a Visionary Business Leader?
Dave Lavinsky

Visionary Leadership: A Proven Pathway to Visionary Change
William A. Ihlenfeldt
AuthorHouse, 2011 - Education - 116 pages

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  1. Very important new leadership theory. Vision for leadership.

  2. Becoming a leader and Doing something for the group as a leader are two different phases of leadership. I think leadership theory has to focus on both phases. I do study leadership theories. I would like to do in more detailed manner now.

  3. Shall we say service only is the first step for leadership. Somebody will listen to you when your words are service to him, your acts are service to him, your thoughts are service to him, your body language is service to him.
    See the blog post. http://www.we-can-leadershipinstitute.com/p/purpose-of-leader-to-serve-others.html