To be effective, a vision and strategy must be communicated in a way that it is understandable and believable (trust). Bennis continues; “Above and beyond his (her) envisioning capabilities, a leader must be a social architect who understands the organization and shapes the way it works. The social architecture of any organization is the silent variable that translates the ‘blooming, buzzing confusion’ of organizational life into meaning. Social architecture is an intangible, but it governs the way people act, the values and norms that are subtly transmitted to groups and individuals, and the construct of binding and bonding within a company.” Another name for Bennis’ social architecture is “culture” and “personality”, and it’s a powerful influence on change. The leader must be committed to the new “design” in order for it to succeed because they alone have the influence. Other key people help, but the main responsibility rests with the leader. In my experience I’ve only observed maybe two leaders who were truly committed to a new design. The others waffled and were, “blown around in the noise/confusion”, created by staff and employees who had their own “agendas”.
Translating vision to action can be “derailed” by the culture/others agendas. Leaders must be (but few are) alert to those around them that resist any attempt to change and who don’t want their current “status quo” affected or interrupted. Leaders can, and in my experience are, influenced by seemingly powerful arguments that begin to undermine the original vision or strategy and can cause a leader to question their vision. Change is difficult for most of us and it creates fear. A certain amount of fear is inevitable but organizational success should not be held hostage to old, obsolete and ineffective ways of conducting business. Whatever the cause it can be a powerful force. Strong leadership (trust, communication, leading by example) can diminish the fear of change. The spirit of fear destroys trust, communication, empowerment, teamwork, and ultimately the vision.