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Extraordinary Leadership in Australia and New Zealand: The Five Practices that Create Great Workplaces by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner, Michael Bunting

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Chapter 3 Inspire a Shared Vision

THE TRUTH IS THAT FOCUSING on the future sets leaders apart. The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders. Call it what you will — vision, purpose, mission, legacy, dream, aspiration, calling — people expect you to clearly know where you’re going and to have a sense of direction. To be an exemplary leader, you have to be able to Inspire a Shared Vision. Doing this means you will have to envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities, and enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.

When you Inspire a Shared Vision you engage people in a conversation about what you are trying to accomplish together and why this matters. You communicate how everyone’s efforts contribute to making the future better than today. The people you are working with get a glimpse of what lies ahead, and even what is likely to be found around some of the corners. It’s an aspirational view, and this vision of what could be compels people forward, getting them enthusiastic and motivated about putting in whatever time and energy is required. And the excitement is both positive and contagious. You and others are joined together in making something significant and meaningful happen, and that sense of purpose energises everyone.

How important is it to Inspire a Shared Vision? When we asked people in Australia and New Zealand how effective they felt their leader was, their ...

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