Posted by: JC Gatlin | February 11, 2012

Leadership without Vision is just Management

Yesterday at the International Builders Show in Orlando, I had dinner with the “Leaders” of one our benchmark builders. I call them leaders because they have accomplished the goals they set out to achieve four years ago. In 2008, they were a company about our size (maybe a little smaller) in a handful of communities closing about 50 homes a year. Today they are building over 700 homes a year, have over 60 employees in 40+ communities and took in over $90 million last year. And, they grew to this level in one of the worst housing recessions this country has seen — ever.

During dinner, we discussed leadership, to which I was reminded that “leadership is not a position, it’s an action.” More to the point, leadership is vision.

Great organizations convey a strong vision of where they will be in the future. Great leaders communicate this vision to their team, constantly, every chance they get.  Back in 2008, this home building President set goals and priorities to personally develop what the organization would look like by mid-year. Then painted the picture for 2009. At the time, he wasn’t sure how or if it would even be possible. But he never expressed that to his team. As far as his team saw, he absolutely, passionately, believed this was where they were going. He maintained a high-level energy and always displayed a positive attitude. Conversations with his team dwelled on their achieving personal goals and objectives, and what their success would feel like. He wanted them to not just feel it, but to see it, smell it and taste it. This was crucial. People need a strong vision of where they’re going. No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job, going nowhere. Or worse, working for a company headed in the wrong direction. They want to be part of a movement. They want to belong to a winning team.

“Our sales people don’t just sell a house to our customers,” he told me. “They sell a lifestyle. If you buy our home in our community, this is what your life will be like. It’s the same for leaders of a team. They are telling their people that if you buy this vision, and work toward achieving it, this is what your life will be like.” Often it’s just a few words that separate the great companies from the average ones.

“Average to above-average companies tend to have great managers,” he continued. “But the great companies understand the difference between Leaders and Managers.”  Management, as defined by the US Army, is “keeping a grasp on the situation and ensuring that plans and policies are implemented properly. It includes giving instructions and inspecting the accomplishment of a task.” Leaders balance management with leadership, but they do not confuse the two roles. Management, in and of itself, is not leadership. Management lacks vision.

Vision is crucial to to the health, wealth and success of an organization. It’s the horizon we’re moving toward. It’s the picture of what the organization will look like in 6, 12, 24 months from now, provided that everyone does their part and goals are achieved. The company leader is always pointing toward the horizon, tirelessly identifying and moving the team toward the next milestone. Leaders cannot push their team. They cannot pull. They certainly can’t dictate. They simply say, “This is where we’re going. If you do this, we can get there together. Can I count on you?”

It’s not easy, especially during these tough economic times. But it is possible. That was proven to me at dinner. And, as I left the restaurant and headed west out of Orlando, I thought, “They did it. So can we.”

© February 2012 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: