Anybody who has taken a long car trip to Disney Land with young kids can understand the importance of having a vision and setting goals for reaching that vision. Kids see the vision, Disney Land, Mickey Mouse, Space Mountain, games, and fun. However, kids do not recognize the goals and objectives necessary to reaching that vision. In other words, kids do not recognize the things that must happen between leaving the house and arriving at Disney Land. Consequently, parents spend three days, in the car, listening to their kids ask, “Are we there yet?”
Leaders must keep this same scenario in mind. Leaders must be able to portray their vision to their followers and provide them with the “road map” or objectives necessary for reaching this vision. If the leader is unable to accomplish this task, the leader will be unsuccessful in reaching their vision and their followers will be asking, “Are we there yet.” In the Disney Land example, the goals and objectives might look something like this. First, leave the house and drive along this road. Second, pass by this landmark, this landmark, and this landmark. Third, after eight hours of driving, reach “such and such”, stop for the night and get some sleep. Fourth, get up in the morning and begin the above process again with different landmarks and a different destination.
Although the Disney Land example is very simplistic, it gives the kids specific landmarks to look for along the road and helps them to recognize the fact that they are coming closer to realizing their vision, Disney Land. Just as the parent benefits from breaking the long trip down into smaller, manageable segments, a leader can benefit from breaking massive tasks down into smaller manageable goals and objectives.
Successfully reaching a vision requires an effective leader to set goals. The goals must be complex but reachable, precise, allow for assessment, and allow for contributions from all participants (Clark, 2004). In the Disney Land example, the goal of finding specific landmarks is complex in that it requires the child to look and pay attention. It is reachable in that it is known the landmark does exist along the route. It allows for assessment as it can be determined if a landmark has or has not been reached. It allows for contribution from all participants as everybody can do the searching.
Leading in an organization or the business world will never be as simplistic as the Disney Land example. The processes for setting goals and reaching visions for adults are far more complicated and in-depth than for kids. Leading requires the leader to work closely with the...