About 1 in 4 workers reply to work emails within 15 minutes,
while only 1 in 10 expects such a fast response. (Source: USA
Today and GFI Software survey)
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In today’s fast-paced business environment where companies rise
and fall on the strength of their foresight, leadership requires
a rare ability to balance a long-term vision with the
nuts-and-bolts of daily operations and values.
“vision” may be the most abused word in business these days.
People often speak of it as if it is a simple matter of looking
ahead. In truth, it’s much, much more.
True vision is
proactive and risky — VERY risky.
It requires you to
imagine a future that doesn’t yet exist, and take action to
bring it to life. It’s about making fundamental changes to your
organization that set it on a course never seen in business
before. It’s about doing what so many in leadership roles speak
about, but so few actually execute.
Vision requires a
serious commitment to long-term differentiation from your
We’re not talking about cosmetic changes
like making a more durable paper towel than the next one, but
about leadership that revolutionizes the distribution model for
getting the absorbent product into the hands of customers.
Consider two developments that really changed the game and
created lasting competitive advantages for the companies that
In 1907, Henry Ford had a revolutionary idea to create “a motor
car for the great multitude.” It took him years of trial and
error to develop a system (the assembly line) that could support
such a grand vision, but he did it and his leadership changed
the course of American history. Today it’s hard to imagine
manufacturing without interchangeable parts, continuous flow and
division of labor, but they were unknown before Ford brought
them to life in 1913.
Smith is known for two things: founding Federal Express (later
shortened to “FedEx”) and creating overnight delivery. This is
important because most inventors don’t have the skills to manage
a company that can successfully market their creation. Smith had
the big idea, AND the charisma to attract top-notch investors,
employees, suppliers and customers. He knew that people would
pay for dependable overnight delivery and orchestrated a
dedicated fleet of jets to get the job done. Raising $91,000,000
in venture capital was just the beginning. His leadership truly
transformed the way many companies conduct business, not just
business giants demonstrated the magnitude of vision, and the
leadership required to fuel long-term business success.
If you really want to be a leader, you must have the vision to
see what others don’t, the courage to try what others say won’t
work, and the character not to rub it in their faces when it
To Your Success,
The ultimate testament to Fred
Smith’s vision is that his company name became a verb. How many
times have you said you’re going to “FedEx” a package instead of
“ship it overnight by FedEx”?
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