Chapter 4 Inspire a mindful vision

I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.

Abraham Lincoln

Inspiring people with a shared vision is a primary task and critical test of leadership. Inspiring leaders envision the future by imagining exciting and even ennobling possibilities, and enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations. Research by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner shows that, next to honesty, being ‘forward-looking' — in other words, visionary — is the second most admired characteristic people look for in leaders. The least effective leaders used this leadership practice 31 per cent less often than those seen as moderately effective leaders. The most effective leaders ‘inspire a shared vision' about 54 per cent more often than those evaluated by their people as least effective. The least engaged people report that their leaders inspire a shared vision about 41 per cent less frequently than the leaders of the most engaged people.

As Jim and Barry explain, ‘[The] findings suggest that there's more to work than making money. People have a deep desire to make a difference. They want to know that they have done something on this earth, that there's a purpose to their existence … The best organizational leaders address this human longing by communicating the significance of the organization's work so that people understand their own unique role in creating and performing ...

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