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Understanding what makes a business tick is a very difficult task.  The best way for most of us to comprehend how a business works is to boil it down to a few key areas.  The most important of those factors is people.  Today is not different than 1920 in that people still comprise the core of any business.  All companies are made up of people who lead one another and perform work to create products or services.  Since people are the core of all business, it is critical to understand how to motivate them to achieve goals and create long term success for any company.

Business leadership and management are the core of a successful business and it is important to understand the difference between the two.  Both of these areas exist hand in hand with the other, but a good manager knows that a leader does far more than manage.  The easiest way to equate the difference between a leader and a manager is to understand the difference between goals and vision.

Goals are the day to day set of attainable benchmarks that a company sets forth through management to create success.  Goals can be large or small.  Many large goals are broken into smaller more easily achieved tasks.  The key for managers in all organizations is to understand how to create goals for their employees and help them achieve those ambitions.  According to Jim Collins a good manager “Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives” (Collins, 2006).  Organization of resources toward objectives is the key to a manager’s position in a company.  Managers fit a single role and it is one of setting and meeting objectives.

It is also important to note that a goal is very important for a business.  Many companies have a set of clear goals that must be met in order to be profitable or move towards the overall vision of the business.  When Microsoft had a goal of releasing its software before the end of the year for Vista, that goal was crucial in moving towards its vision of being the most important software development company in the world.  The release of its new Operating System software was also critical for Microsoft’s need to compete in the software market that has Apple and Linux moving in on its market share.  Microsoft needed to remain a competitive force in the software market in order to move forward with its vision and to achieve its financial goals.

This brings us to the concept of vision.  Vision is as broad a term in business as the concept should be in practice.  A company needs vision in order to find its center.  A vision should be broad and exciting.  Google has created a spectacular vision.  “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Google, 2006).  The vision of a business is reflected in everything that it does and all that it wants to be.  Again, Google even used vision in its name.  “”Googol” is the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros. The term was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, and was popularized in the book, “Mathematics and the Imagination” by Kasner and James Newman. Google’s play on the term reflects the company’s mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the web” (Google, 2006).

Vision is the core of leadership in business.  “Great leaders imagine an ideal future for their organizations that goes beyond the ordinary and beyond what others may have thought possible. They strive to realize significant achievements that others have not”  (Bateman, 2004).  Vision is also described by Jim Collins in this manner:  “Vision is simply a combination of three basic elements: (1) an organization’s fundamental reason for existence beyond just making money (often called its mission or purpose), (2) its timeless unchanging core values, and (3) huge and audacious—but ultimately achievable—aspirations for its own future” (Collins, 2000).

For a business to find true success the overall vision of the company must permeate into the goals of its managers.  Those managers in turn must use vision to create objectives to meet those goals. The integration and use of vision in order to achieve goals is critical in leadership.  Leadership can be found on all levels of a business or organization.  Managers, team leads and executives can all be good leaders.  But the importance of understanding vision in leadership is very important.

A leader in an organization must understand the dynamics of their team and the people that they have been entrusted to lead.  A leader will work to discover its team’s or organization’s core values and how those help align the team with its vision.  “First, you cannot “set” organizational values, you can only discover them. Nor can you “install” new core values into people. Core values are not something people “buy in” to. People must be predisposed to holding them. Executives often ask me, “How do we get people to share our core values?” You don’t. Instead, the task is to find people who are already predisposed to sharing your core values. You must attract and then retain these people and let those who aren’t predisposed to sharing your core values go elsewhere” (Collins, 2006).   A good leader will take the vision that they have been given or created and use this to create a tangible objective for their team.  The group will need to buy in to the vision.  This is where a good leader will understand that the need exists for balance between achieving goals and placating the team.  As a leader begins to develop their strategy, it is important to remember that they need the group in order to be a leader.  A good leader must have good followers.  The leader will take the time to get their team members to but into the vision and to make sure there is harmony in the team.  A combination of task performance and group maintenance based leadership skills is very important in becoming a well rounded leader (Bateman, 2004).

The overall understanding of vision and goals is the key to creating a good leadership set.  A leader must always remember that their loyalty is to their company and to their team.  A leader must use vision as a way to create a tangible buy in for their team and as a benchmark to create goals.  Managers will always be tasked with running day to day tasks, but leaders will rise to create opportunity and vision for their goals and get the people they work over to follow them towards long term objectives.

References:

Bateman, T. S., Snell, S.  (2004). Management: The New Competitive Landscape, 6e(pp. 1-102).  New York:  McGraw-Hill

Level 5 Leadership. JimmCollins.com. Retrieved Nov 3, 2006 from http://www.jimcollins.com/lab/level5/p3.html

Google Corporate Overview. Google.com. Retrieved Nov 3, 2006 from http://www.google.com/corporate/index.html