Is it me, or is there a lack of leadership here in South Yorkshire?

I definitely do not mean in many of the amazing businesses we have in the region, I mean in our local politicians. Anyone in business knows we’re in unpredictable and uncertain times… globally, it’s Trump, Russia and North Korea, nationally, it’s Brexit, and locally a key issue is devolution (and of course, which of the Steel City teams will end up above the other in The Championship!).

Devolution appears to offer real opportunities for the region’s businesses but there doesn’t seem to be anybody in the political world ‘standing up’ and exploring how we could maximise those opportunities – or provide ‘alternatives’ to it if they don’t want it. THAT’S a lack of leadership and is creating more uncertainty among local entrepreneurs and business leaders.

So, what can our local political leaders learn from business? Well my experience shows that winning business leaders ‘Get That Vision Thing!’ That means they create a clear picture of the future that ‘stimulates excites and inspires everyone’ in their business. They share it, get ‘buy in’ and ensure that this drives their performance.

What does a vision look like? Well it’s NOT simply a set of financial figures, or a business plan. (It’s worth pointing out that Martin Luther King didn’t stand on Capitol Hill in 1963 and say “I’ve got a strategic business plan and a cash flow forecast”).

A ‘vision’ IS …. a picture of a future you want… something that stimulates, excites and inspires…. a point of strategic focus for everyone to work towards…. and a driver and shaper of performance.

When it comes to devolution, there seems to be a complete lack of this, either for it or against it – nobody seems to want to ‘paint that picture’ either way.

What should our politicians be doing to demonstrate leadership and ‘Get That Vision Thing’? Well, when I work with business leaders, I encourage them to paint a picture of where they will be in three years’ time:

  • What will be in place?
  • What will they be doing (differently)?
  • What will be happening that isn’t happening now?
  • What won’t be happening that is now?
  • How will everyone will be feeling?

I then ask if that needs to happen, what needs to be in place in 12 months’ time and what does that look and feel like? Their challenge then is to share that vision and get ‘buy in’. THAT’S what our political leaders should be doing too.

Here are five things I see successful leaders do to make this happen that they (and you) could do too…

  1. Create it…. Establish a clear picture of the future that ‘stimulates, excites and inspires’ everyone in your business (constituency)…. It starts with yourself – YOU have to believe in it – and show that!
  2. Get ‘Buy – In’…. Share it and get everyone in your business (constituency) ‘on board’ and ‘bought in’ to that future picture so they feel part of it.
  3. Get The Messages Right…. Ensure the right messages get to the right people in the language and format that works for them – winning leaders find different ways to get everyone pulling in the same direction!
  4. Keep It Alive And Use it … Ensure that your vision shapes and drives your day to day decisions and activities at every level of the business that keeps you moving forward.
  5. Deliver … Do all you can to reach your destination – it’s about finding a way!

As one of the great ‘visionaries’ of our time, Steve Jobs said…

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you”

So three questions for you (and our political leaders)…

Have you ‘Got That Vision Thing’?

Are your people stimulated, excited, and inspired by it?

Are you?

Andy Hanselman is a business expert, author and international speaker who helps business build skills, create strategies and develop leaders. Find him at or on 0114 243 4666.

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