Like the concept of leadership itself, the term vision is frequently abused. Undisciplined commentators treat it as a kind of catchall for everything that they can't easily explain. This is unfortunate because few aspects of leadership are more important than vision, and no serious treatment of the subject could ignore the critical role that it plays. “To grasp and hold a vision,” Ronald Reagan once stated, “that is the very essence of successful leadership,” and Frederick Smith, CEO of Federal Express, said that “the primary task of leadership is to communicate the vision and values of an organization.”21

Perhaps more than anyone else, leadership guru Warren Bennis has studied the difference between organizational failure ...

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