The Power of Shared Vision
The universal vitality of focusing on a powerful common vision, backed up by a dynamic and inspiring value proposition that speaks to the customer shows no cultural boundaries.
For example, take this typical vision for a business:
“We will be the leaders in our industry.”
It presents a “vision vacuum” by saying nothing, containing no commitments, and inspiring neither the organization’s stakeholders nor its customers nor its suppliers. Devoid of a powerful vision, everything defaults to politics, manifesting as cultural differences, which then divide the stakeholders against themselves.
As the old adage from Alice in Wonderland states: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” And that road will be fraught with in-fighting, subversion, despair, and confusion, all of which will ultimately lead to the ruin of the alliance.
Contrast the weakness of a faulty vision with the motivational force of a more commanding perspective:
- “Our team will create 10 new innovations each year that will reduce the costs to our customers by 25%, while accelerating their throughput by 50%.”
~ EXAMPLE ~
Baseball’s Famed Double Play
Infielders executing a “double play” is a perfect example of synergy and synchronicity. All players have the same shared vision and guiding principles, innate trust in their teammates, commitment to precision of execution, and very clear roles and responsibilities.
Timing is essential. A split second spent to “think about the play” is enough to ensure failure.
Without deep trust in the other player’s competence, understanding of the big picture, and cherishing of the different skills, the double play cannot be executed.
Every sport – hockey, basketball, football, soccer – has its parallel example.
Synergistic Leadership is not focused strictly on the Leader -- it’s about getting teams to create together, getting differences to become additive, to create “symphony” from harmony, melody, rhythm, beat, and specialty of instruments.
By having a powerful central vision and value proposition such as this, partners focus differences on how to achieve the joint goal, rather than arguing amongst themselves as to whose way is the “right way.” A shared vision helps ensure synchronicity.
Powerful visions are all founded on belief in the ability to discover the unknown, accomplish the seemingly impossible, and overcome the apparently unattainable.
Therefore, strong leadership must be present to build such a vision and to unify and align the team’s differences for a common purpose.
Synergy of Compatible Differences
Synergy does not just occur as a natural byproduct of a relationship nor from a tough legal agreement, nor by dint of a dream.
Rather, it must be designed with architectural aplomb. But more, synergy must be activated by a powerful set of actions founded upon the understanding of how differentials produce the 1+1=3 effect.
- “If two people in the same room think alike, one is unnecessary;” commented the philosopher Ernest Holmes.
- The eminent psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung foresaw the potential of relationships when he said: “The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension between opposites.”
- Joel Barker, in his groundbreaking work on paradigms, recognized that new paradigms originate from outsiders who think differently, not from insiders who see their world from an old and tired perspective.
Each of these men understood the profound impact differences can have on the co-creation of bold new futures.
Invariably, however, ethnocentric or business culture attempts to enforce its mighty and frequently destructive hand. Some team members may begin by making judgments regarding the other side’s culture, branding it as strange, wrong, inefficient, bad, or unproductive. As soon as this begins, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and distrust begin to fester, and then the alliance begins to unravel. This calls for strong action.
Adept relationship managers, leveraging the vision for the alliance, will call for creating a “synergy of compatible differences” in which differences are respected as source of innovation, cherished for their ability to break paradigms, and expected to produce creative solutions. The manager’s ability to create this new “super-ordinate” culture within the organization enables the relationship to produce at higher performance levels than either individual member can achieve alone.
Because complex organizational relationships cannot be commanded, the mechanisms for leadership and control are dramatically different compared with most conventional hierarchies. Great relationship managers tend to be “integrators,” possessing outstanding skills in bridging differences through their ability to translate across cultural boundaries. The greater the differential between cultures, the greater the need for highly skilled integrators.
Often the effective integrator will develop principles and values for the alliance that forge unity of vision and purpose. Integrators empower those around them by recognizing that “people support what they help create.” Thus, they use techniques to unify alliance members, rather than divide them, to bring out the best in others.