Exemplary leaders are forward-looking. They imagine that extraordinary feats are possible and that the ordinary could be transformed into something noble. They are able to develop an ideal and unique image of the future for the common good.
Yet, a vision can’t belong only to the leader. It’s a shared vision. Everyone has dreams, aspirations, and a desire that tomorrow will be better than today. When visions are shared, they attract more people, sustain higher levels of motivation, and withstand more challenges than those that are singular. You have to make sure that what you can see – is also something others can see, and vice versa.
The key task for leaders is inspiring a shared vision, not selling their own idiosyncratic view of the world. What this requires is finding common ground among those people who have to implement the vision.
The best leaders are great listeners. They listen carefully to what other people have to say and how they feel. They have to ask good (and often tough) questions, be open to ideas other than their own, and even lose arguments in favor of the common good. Through intense listening, leaders get a sense of what people want, and what they value, and what they dream about. This sensitivity to others is no trivial skill. It is a truly precious human ability.
Building trust is a process that begins when someone (either you or the other party) is willing to risk being the first to open up, to show vulnerability, and to let go of control.
Leaders go first. If you want the high levels of performance that come with trust and collaboration, you’ll have to demonstrate your trust in others before them asking them to trust you.
~ The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations Fifth edition, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge: A Wiley Brand, 2012, pages, 104, 116, 118 and 2