Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Casting Vision

Once our desired future state is clear, it is the leader’s job to communicate this vision so that others can ‘see’ it along with them.  Tom Clancy’s book, “Into the Storm: A Study in Command” (page 504) provides a great illustration of vision casting by a leader.  Gen. Freddie Franks was leading the VII Corps in Desert Storm and in the midst of the fog of war it became apparent that the final outcome was not clear.  Gen. Franks provides that needed clarity as described below.

“But I’ve been around tired troops, and these troops were tired…though clearly not down.  They were running on fumes now, but they wanted to finish it.  I could imagine what the troops who had fought all night felt like.

“As I looked at the map, a piece of blue representing the Persian Gulf was just visible at the far eastern map sheet.  It caught my attention.

“Attack east,” I told them.  “Go for the blue on the map.  That is what is bringing the ships to take us home when this is over.  Go for that.  Here!” I said, banging on the map.  Not too military, but I wanted them—as clearly tired as they were—to have something to seize on to propel them forward another twenty-four hours.  As Greg Fontenot was to tell me later, my remark “Go for the blue on the map” got all the way to the battalion commanders, and maybe further.”

How’s your vision?  Is it clear?  Can you communicate it clearly and simply to others?  Where is the “blue on your map?”  Go for the blue on the map!

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