- - by Thomas Beerepoot
The squeeze of the business unit manager
Business unit managers at multinationals do not always get around to bringing vision to their department and renewing the organization. This is not surprising: they are under such pressure that there is little room for strategic reflection.
The constant adrenaline rush that you experience as a business unit manager in a multinational makes it particularly difficult to think about where the organization should be in five years. To develop a vision, you need to utilize the full capacity of your brain. Under normal circumstances, you just don’t have the time to put your legs up, stare out in front of you and think for a long time. That makes it impossible to truly develop focus. To do this, you need to first create the right conditions.
1. Step away from the daily rush
To be creative you need a nurturing environment. That almost always means: escaping from the daily rush. Go to a location that is preferably far away, in a place where people cannot disturb you and where you cannot easily escape. Such a situation gives you the chance to come back to yourself. Because you can only develop a real vision if you go back to the source: yourself. In order to work in a concentrated way on your shared future, you first have to remember what really excites you, what you really believe in, what really drives you. Real renewal requires authentic leadership.
2. Let go of your past
You have been around for years, in a very specific market. You have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Now is the time to let go of all that baggage. Forget your own company, forget its history, forget the point where you’ve arrived. Let everything go and only answer this question honestly: if you could start your company again today, how would you go about it? Would you want the exact same products and services and the same organizational culture? Or would you like to do things differently? If you really think completely freely, where would you like to go?
3. Dare to face your dream
You might surprise yourself with the vision that emerges from the answer to that question. If you have really gone to the core, you sketch an organization where people act from values they can stand behind, where they strive for goals that are worthy of pursuit, where they operate in a truly innovative way. You outline the organization that you truly believe in, that you think deserves the future. It’s your “North Star”: the point on the horizon where you want to go. You may feel a deep desire to make that vision a reality. To do what you feel is necessary, instead of doing what is asked of you. To follow your heart.
4. Focus on your “North Star”
This is the most dangerous moment. This is the moment when you think: nice, such a dream, but it’s not really real. Let’s be realistic. We are already at this point. We can’t start over.
That attitude is the biggest pitfall on your path. Without dreams there are no deeds. Therefore, keep your point on the horizon fixed in your mind. Follow the path that leads to your “North Star”. That is where you want to go. You just need to get there. Even if it’s going to take years. Just go for it.
Free yourself as a leader from old patterns, and connect with your essence, your authentic power. So that you can set a true course.
5. Have the courage to make radical choices
Choosing clearly also means that you stop doing things. This again requires courage. It can also be painful, especially if the organization is still earning well from activities that you know are going to end, sooner or later. Then remember: only by focusing all of your arrows on your ultimate goal can you actually achieve it.
You want to make sure the basics are in order first. You can’t build a house if the foundation is sagging. In order for your vision to succeed, you want to first chop-up, break apart and clean up the rubble. Only then can you build a new foundation.
6. Make your mission collaborative
If you don’t want your vision to get bogged down, it’s important to share it with everyone. With a shared mission you not only motivate your employees, but you also bring calm and structure in your organization. If you ensure a logical order of events in the transformation, it will also take shape.
Moreover, if a mission statement is to work, it should not cover more than one page. Actually, you want to be able to explain in a few sentences what you are aiming for. People also need to understand the message immediately. This is an important test.
7. Put your heart into the business
You don’t want your shared vision of the future to be a project that people do on the side. You want them to be constantly working on it. That means freeing up extra capacity and forming new teams. That means transforming all the work to be in line with the new strategy. That means constant attention to what you stand for. Only by consistently aiming at that point on the horizon do you get one step closer to it every day together.
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