August 13, 2013

The Work of Leaders in Vision, Alignment, and Execution

The Work of
Leader book
In the book The Work of Leaders, by Inscape folks (Straw, Scullard, Kukkonen, and Davis), an extended model of leadership is introduced around Vision, Alignment, and Execution (VAE).  According to the book most great managers understand the importance of having a vision.  After all, managers should learn how to create vision in the strategic portion of their MBA programs.  However, few managers know how to move into a leadership role that aligns their people around the vision and develops an action plan for executing that vision.  This book serves as a tool for leaders to close the gap in these two areas in order to meet the vision.   Below is a brief outline of some information from the book.

Vision = concept
What is it?
The desired future state of the organization
Why is it important?
1.       Helps you stand out from competition
2.       Provides purpose
3.       Drives the creation of goals
How do you get it?
1.       Explore concepts
   a.       Remain open
   b.      Prioritize the big picture
2.       Encourage bold ideas
  a.       Be adventurous
  b.      Speak out
3.       Test assumptions
  a.       Seek counsel
  b.      Explore implications

Alignment = people
What is it?
Gaining buy-in for the vision
Why is it important?
1.       Conserves time and energy
2.       Provides a forum for questions and concerns
3.       Unites and excites people around the vision
How do you get it?
1.       Communicate clearly
  a.       Explain rationale
  b.      Structure messages
2.       Encourage open dialogues
  a.       Exchange perspectives
  b.      Be receptive
3.       Inspire others
  a.       Be expressive
  b.      Be encouraging
Execution = strategy
What is it?
A plan of action to make the vision a reality
Why is it important?
1.       Tangible sign of the leader’s commitment
2.       Assures the development of concrete strategies
3.       Gives people a sense of accomplishment
How do you get it?
1.       Build momentum
  a.       Be driven
   b.      Initiate action
2.       Give structure
  a.       Provide a plan
  b.      Analyze in-depth
3.       Provide feedback
 a.       Address problems
  b.      Offer praise
You can get The Work of Leaders book to prepare for building these new skills.  If you feel you are having problems in a particular VAE area, you may want to consider taking a Work of Leaders (WOL) profile to identify your weaknesses and get specific suggestions for overcoming them.  Or if you prefer to attend a WOL training session, look for a local or international authorized distributor/partner to arrange this.  I would suggest you look for a training session that can be attended with the full leadership and which allows for time to work together on a vision and group coaching for alignment/communication and execution/implementation.

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