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FCW : January 2014
and conviction, and gets actual- ized through commitment. Vision. My fourth intangible of leadership is vision. [Anglo-Irish] author Jonathan Swift de ned vision as "the art of seeing what is invisible to others." The challenge for leaders is to get their team to share that same vision and make it happen! Vision starts with the attitude that anything is possible. Have you ever heard of a pessimistic political candidate? Or an unin- spired inventor? The best leaders operate in the realm of what's pos- sible, not just what's probable. What would you think of a man who visualized a helicopter, tank, calculator, double-hull boat and plate tectonics? What if I told you this man was an uneducated painter who lived 500 years ago? Leonardo da Vinci may have been the most talented person who ever lived. Clearly, he didn't limit his imagination. In 1966, characters on a science- ction TV show spoke to one another using handheld devices. "Star Trek" not only predicted cell phones, but also in uenced and popularized other modern technologies, like tablet PCs, PDAs and MRIs. A big part of vision is intuition. Leaders not only have a vision of what they want to achieve, they also have ideas about how to achieve it. Did one of your college papers change your life? How about inspiring you to create a new industry? FedEx founder Fred Smith could answer "yes" to both ques- tions. While at Yale in 1962, Smith wrote an economics paper outlin- ing overnight delivery service in the computer age. He saw the growth of IBM and supercomput- ers, recognizing that automation would change distribution. He argued that passenger-routing sys- tems used by air freight shippers were inadequate. Smith proposed that shippers needed a system designed for air freight that could meet demands. He then set the paper aside. After graduating, Fred Smith spent four years in the U.S. Marines Corps, including service in Vietnam. During his service, Smith saw many supplies arriv- ing late or ending up in the wrong places. When he left the Marines in 1971, computers had begun to take hold in business. So, Smith returned to his college paper idea. Inspired by the bank clearing- house network, Smith created the hub-and-spoke model for shipping. That same year, the 29-year-old Smith incorporated and raised nearly $90 million in venture capital. It took four years before the company showed a pro t, but FedEx is now a household word that means priority shipping. Vision also enables initiative. Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and a clear idea of how to get it done is a strong motivator. A leader's vision is what connects employees, goals and values together to achieve their best results. As GE's former CEO Jack Welch once said, "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion." Leadership starts with integ- rity, is revealed through courage and conviction, gets actualized through commitment, and is driv- en by vision. I describe these attri- butes as intangibles not because they're elusive but rather because they're essential. Since they all derive from character, we already possess the means to demonstrate these four attributes. Still, it's up to each of us to cul- tivate them --- to become the best leaders! You can learn to be an effective leader, but the desire has to come from within. Do you know if you have leadership potential? Do you already seek a leadership role? In either case, the opportunity will arise for you to step up or step aside. ■ Bookshelf Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion. --- Jack Welch 28 January 2014 FCW.COM