Chapter 20. Lead, Follow, and Get out of the Way

Involving Employees in the Visioning Process

Melissa K. Carsten and Michelle C. Bligh

Over the past decade, researchers and practitioners have placed great emphasis on the importance of having an organizational vision. Creating such a vision, however, is often easier said than done. Whereas strategic leaders are responsible for predicting many things about the external market, environment, and customer priorities, vision requires a different type of prediction: one that paints a vivid portrait of the organization's ideal future state. Such corporate leaders as Jack Welch, George Merck, and Bill Gates have all been praised for succeeding in creating and disseminating a vision that effectively charts the direction of their companies.[324] But vision creation is not always a task completed by executive leaders; many companies are beginning to understand the importance of involving followers in the process of vision creation, dissemination, and implementation.

Traditional views of leadership place the process of vision creation in the hands of executive leaders, assuming that they are in the best position to chart the strategic path for a company's future. Further, these traditional views suggest that leaders need merely to articulate a vision to achieve follower buy-in. More recently, however, attention has been shifted to examine followers' perceptions of vision in an effort to determine the difference between effective and ineffective ...

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