Last week we looked at the first of the purpose-oriented characteristics of leadership ‘A leader must be a visionary person.’
The second characteristic of a purpose-oriented leadership is ‘turning vision into action.’
It’s easier to be passionate about the future if we can visualise where we want to go and how we are going to get there. Like all journeys, we need a map. Vision is about having a clear understanding of where we are going which is absolutely vital in achieving our goal.
Action is the bridge between vision and results. Action involves figuring how to get from where we are now to where we want to be. A vision is just an idea until action is taken to turn that vision into reality.
We’ve all met leaders who live in the land of amazing ideas. They spend most of their time fantasising over their visions. The problem is their visions are just fantasies because they lack an effective strategy to take action.
Over the years we read and hear successive governments announced some big visions and thousands or even millions of dollars have been committed to certain projects around the country. Unfortunately, none of these projects eventuate. Today, it is still a dream and our people remain the same as it was some thirty six years ago.
On the other hand, the opposite extreme is the leader who is so busy doing, that they never stop to consider what they are doing and most importantly why they are doing it. Such leaders certainly get a lot done, but often not the things that will lead them to fulfilment. So the key is to find a balance between vision and action.
For instance, the gold medal winning Olympic athlete is often cited as a metaphorical example of what you need to do to turn vision into action.
The athlete visualise success, he or she set goals, passionate about what he or she could do to achieve his or her goal.
But there is also another factor in the athlete’s success which is not mention as frequently, because it is not quite appealing.
The athlete is willing to pay the price. The athlete is willing to get up 5.00 am every day and practice in harsh conditions with strict discipline. The athlete will endure frustration, failure, and sometimes physical injury.
Hopefully turning our vision into action will not be quite arduous. But if we are going to accomplish anything of significance, there will be a price to pay. It may be small or large but part of achieving that goal involves deciding that we are willing to pay the price. Someone said, “The universe doesn’t reward people for what they know, it rewards people for what they do.”
A leader need to develop a habit that of action orientation. This is really the most important habit for success. It is the ability to get on with the job and get it done.
The leader needs to overcome procrastination, push aside fears and launch toward the achievement of his or her goals. The combination of goal orientation and action orientation, in them, will virtually assure great success.
Let me sight a few examples from the Scripture. When a leader is trained and prepared by God, he or she is given volition for action. It is in this way that God works in people (Phil. 2:13).
It was not sufficient for Moses to dream and pray about the Promised Land which flowed with milk and honey. It was not enough for Nehemiah to dream and pray about a rebuilt wall at Jerusalem.
It was not enough for the Apostles to dream and pray about the gospel been announced to the entire world; it was not enough for Jesus to dream and pray about having disciples to follow Him. Each one did something to turn their dreams into reality- ACTION WAS ESSENTIAL!
In addition to the visionary characteristic, ambitious and industrious characteristics have been typical of most, if not all, of history’s greatest leaders. Effective Christian leaders who have been men and women of action were men and women of faith, faith in God, faith in what God asked them to do, and faith to do the impossible.
Leaders must characterise themselves as doers, not only thinkers or praying people, for thinking and praying without doing is wasted.
Andrew Carnegie said, “As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” Eric L. Harvey said, “We judge ourselves mostly by our intentions, but others judge us mostly by our actions.” People hear what we say, but they see what we do. And, seeing is believing.
By Rev. Eric D. Maefonea