How Vision Is a Crucial Element in a Effective Leader Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1530 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Advertising

Vision -- If You Build a Singular Vision, Many Will Come true business leader is a man or woman with a clear, holistic vision for his or her organization. "As a nation can't survive without public virtue," a firm "can't progress without a common vision." (Bennis, 1994, p. 8) No matter how disparate the organization may be, no matter how large, and no matter how fractious some of the individuals under that leader, a leader must have a vision that sets a tone for the organization, to lead that organization into an always-uncertain future. If a leader does not, the organization will be left floundering in the wilderness. However, once the new leader defines his or her organizational vision, it is also critical during the subsequent months of transition, that key organizational players share this same vision and the specifics of implementation are ironed out so that logistics do not interfere with the accomplishment of the leader's vision and divert his or her course.

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The strong management style of Charlotte Beers suggests that she knew the importance of vision in leadership when she took control of the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. At the time, the market situation of the once-great Ogilvy was as cold as the polar caps faced by the great Artic explorer Earnest Shackleton, as detailed in the book Shackleton's Way. (Morrell, et.al, 2002) Today, the Ogilvy website proudly proclaims itself as the generator of one of the most successful campaigns in recent memory, the Dove beauty product line that caught consumer's eyes with an edgy use of ordinary women. "Feeling beautiful is the right of every woman." (Official website, 2005) "Over the past 50 years, Ogilvy has helped to build some of the most recognizable brands in the world: American Express, Sears, Ford, Shell, Barbie, Pond's, Dove, and Maxwell House among them, and more recently, IBM and Kodak." ("History," Ogilvy Official Website, 2005)

Term Paper on How Vision Is a Crucial Element in a Effective Leader Assignment

Beers' assumption of the leadership of the world's sixth largest advertising agency occurred during a period of rapid industry change, and then, unlike today, Ogilvy was floundering. She faced an organizational crisis at the firm and Beers was the first outsider CEO brought into manage firm, a sign of Ogilvy's desperation. She was brought in to infuse the firm with new vision and hope, but faced perhaps inevitable organizational challenges and resistance. A British explorer once summarized the feats of the great Antarctic explorer Shackleton "if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time." (Morrell, et.al, p.3) In other words, Shackleton's single-minded vision was key to succeeding in desperate situations and times. Or, to take a more moderate statement of such a view, to be a good leader requires clear self-knowledge and clear personal goals beforehand, so one can embark upon organizational change in a driven, tactical, and future-thinking, yet not egotistical fashion. (Bennis, 1994) leader cannot be egotistical in his vision in the sense that he or she associates the achievements of the firm with his or her own personal greatness. Shackleton, for example, did not wish to reach the Pole to make himself glorious in the history books, but simply for the greatness of the endeavor itself. A CEO might be ruthless in making cuts, shifting course, and steering the firm in a particular direction, but so long as it is for the organization's ultimate good and forward-directed vision, not for the CEO's wealth or self-aggrandizement. "Shackleton always put the well-being of his crew first" and foremost and the integrity of his mission above his ego. (Morrell, et.al, p.37) He believed in listening to his inner voice and "learning from the right mentors" but ultimately giving oneself over to a larger guiding vision of a success that extended beyond his own career, into long-term history as well as into his own short-term acclaim as an explorer. (Bennis, 1994, p.22)

Such a futuristic vision is especially critical in the advertising industry. Advertising is not a tangible product, but is essentially a creative concept. It is a creative product aimed at pitching many different potential consumers of many different brands on a future vision of themselves and of the world. An advertising agency's services are marketed and depend upon the strength of the creative team, yet the CEO must create an organizational environment where such creativity can flourish, that draws top talent, and can market the service to other firms. Although individuals may compete against one another within accounts or for accounts, the CEO must hold them all together, and create a common sense of responsibility to an artistic and managerial vision of what Ogilvy advertising looks like, for example.

When Beers was engaging with and leading her senior team, she first embarked upon a vision formulation process, to ensure that although it had disparate clients, Ogilvy could create a name for itself in the advertising community as a whole, with a particular stamp. This would give it a competitive edge in the diverse and changing marketplace of advertising, so that when other executives at client companies were branding their own products names, they would think of Ogilvy, and the reputation of Ogilvy would not blend in with the names of other advertising industry agencies.

Beers' first step was to define a vision, and to narrow rather than expand upon and thus potentially dilute the associations clients attached to the style of the firm. Over the vision formation process with her senior team, she tried to make sure that her own "key crew members" on her expedition into the inner wilderness of the advertising agency shared her "temperament and vision," a problem that thwarted the previous executive and indeed Shackleton, on his first mission. (Morrell, et.al, p.37) Beers was faced with particular obstacles at a firm that had been in existence since 1948, had been founded by an expatriate Brit, and had never hired a CEO before from out of house. She had to sell herself as well as sell other members of the firm on her legitimacy and the legitimacy of her vision and her reorganizing.

However, had she been fuzzy in self-definition, the chance taken by the insular firm would have seen purposeless.

Thus, Beers tried to get other staff members on her side, critical to the creation of teams, even in an international company through marshalling them to her own vision, rather than trying to integrate herself into a structure or culture that was not working. "Someone who clashes with your personality or the corporate culture will hinder your work," especially at a creative agency. (Morrell, et.al, p.75) "Shackleton made a mistake on the Nimrod by hiring individuals who didn't fit the bold, risk-taking" strategy that was critical to his own brand of leadership and success in expeditions. (Morrell, et.al, p.59) Beers tried to unite all senior executives in her struggle to reconcile creative, strategic, and global vs. local priorities, as the firm became more international in scope. Beers strove to balance the new branding of the agency name with the bottom line, to "be bold in vision and careful in planning. Dare to try something new, but be meticulous enough in your proposal to give your ideas" in specific terms. (Morrell, et.al, p.45)

Sixteen months later, with a vision statement agreed upon, Beers faced the problem of implementation. The turnaround of the firm's fortunes had begun, but organizational structures and systems were not yet aligned with the firm's new direction and course into the international market and in the future. The Harvard Case Study that chronicles Beers' wrestling with the advertising firm concludes as Beers must decide how to work best with her senior team to achieve alignment with organizational goals and the management of the organization's different branches in 1994. Cohesion in an organization representing… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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