As a leader, your job is to make your people and your organization better. It’s safe to say you have no intention of leading a stagnant organization. Yet, organizational decay can creep in and go unnoticed unless you’re actively working to combat it.

For every organization in this situation, as today’s guest will explain to us, the real culprit is lack of vision. Author of Vision to Results, Jim Fischetti is here with us today to teach us how to create an actionable vision for organizations.

Jim Fischetti: My wife and I were driving in the car, and my wife said to me, “Jimmy, you know, when you leave, you leave a really big hole.”

She did not mean that as a compliment.

As a leader, if you leave a vacuum when you’re gone, that’s not a good sign. I think prior to that, there is a belief that you do leadership through charisma and being liked and allowing things and previously had always pushed and used my own effort and energy to make sure we got results. The paradigm shift is learning to get results through people.

There’s a lack of leadership that’s really designed around getting results through people and holding people accountable to those results. That’s kind of why I did that.

There’s a vacuum of leadership, and I want to see people get better. I want to see organizations hit their goals and their vision and leaders go to the next level.

Crisis in Leadership

Rae Williams: Right off the bat in your book, you start off with the crisis in leadership. What is the crisis in leadership?

Jim Fischetti: The real crisis is there’s a lack of leadership, whether we look in the political world, business world, even in the church world…nonprofits…People want leadership.

We’re seeing more people that are in positions of power self-serving versus being a leader, leading an organization, wanting to see their people succeed, and a belief and the mission and vision to execute that.

That’s the crisis in leadership, I believe starts there, rises and falls with the leader, and in this case, a lack of leadership in the world.

Rae Williams: What is something that your readers can take action on in order to begin changing this lack of leadership?

Jim Fischetti: Obviously for leadership, it starts with vision. There’s a lot written on vision. People have vision and mission statements, and it’s important that the vision be more than simply words on a wall. In order to see the vision become reality, which is I think what leaders and the organization wants.

People join the organization because they believe in that.

What’s missing today is leaders who are willing to be a little bit rough, right? They’ve got to be tough, they’ve got to be firm. In the book, we talk about the accountability cycle process. There’s a real simple—it’s not easy, but it’s simple. That is, it starts with clear expectations.

As the leader, I have to set clear expectations with my people.

I need to make sure that the people absolutely understand those expectations and they’re clear to them. We start from that premise, and then we would move to – as the leader, I need to track and monitor activities and results. My people have been empowered to achieve as a leader, they’re empowered to execute, and I want to track their activities.

We have 100% ability to control our activities. We can’t always 100% control results, however.

As the leader, I need to monitor results also. If the person’s doing the activity and they’re still not getting results, we probably have a skill or training issue with that person.

The second step is to track the activities and the results. The reason why leaders need to do that is because the third step is we’re going to have consistent feedback—weekly, daily, whatever works for your organization. But you’re going to have to be consistent. I think most of the time, weekly or more work better, where you’re going to go over the results with the people.

Too often in corporate America, people have annual reviews. Now, that’s really not enough time. That’s too long in between feedback to course correct or to affirm, celebrate those things that the person’s doing.

I want you to have that consistent feedback, and by tracking the activities and results, you’re having an evidenced based conversation. You’re removing emotion.

I think all of us from one time or another have had to go to come to a Jesus meeting with somebody. Most of the time, in most organizations, those meetings are usually around a lack of performance.

Whereas if we’re doing this on a consistent base, the fourth step is we will either course correct or celebrate their success.

If we’re having more consistent and more frequent accountability sessions with our people, often times, we’ll be able to celebrate more and then there’s no anxiety around that meeting. You’re also building a deeper relationship with the people that you’re leading by interacting with them, checking in with them, being their support system. You’re also showing how important they are because you’re taking the time to meet with them.

I think that’s a key takeaway—doing the grind of accountability with your people.

When Leadership Is Lacking

Rae Williams: What’s happening when we don’t have proper leadership?

Jim Fischetti: A couple of things. One, often times, the organization will have a retention problem. It’s really tough to keep top talent if the leader isn’t engaged and helping their people achieve their role in the vision.

If you have a retention problem, it’s very likely you also have a leadership problem.

If you have a performance problem—i.e, you’re not hitting your benchmarks that you’ve set as far as goals, profit, production, those aspects—there’s probably a leadership issue. Surveys show 50% of the people in the work force in America are apathetic, they’re not excited, they’re not dissatisfied, but they’re not engaged the high level.

That’s clearly a leadership problem. Imagine what productivity would look like if that was 90% of our workforce was highly engaged. 100% of our workforce was highly engaged. What would it mean to the average organization? It would be powerful.

Rae Williams: Give me an example of what are some of the success stories that you could share with us?

Jim Fischetti: One of the roles that I had was I ran an organization with about 4,000 people doing about 4 billion in sales. And in a little over three years with this method, I was able to take that organization to just under 13 billion in annual sales, increased profit by 250% and doubled the size of the organization.

It really was about meeting with the key leaders on a consistent one-on-one basis and finding out what their goals were, what they wanted to achieve, and working and hitting that.

It’s not necessarily glamorous work to do a one-on-one accountability call, but it’s powerful.

Rae Williams: Share with us a little bit about some of the challenges that you think that people will face when trying to become the leader that you described?

Jim Fischetti: I always ask the question, “What’s the opposite of love?” And the number one answer I actually get is hate.

In reality, the opposite of love is apathy or indifference. A lot of people have a hard time calling people out and challenging them, so they’ll be silent versus addressing issues. This type of leadership requires it.

Say you’re at 80% a goal, you’re at 100% a goal, you’re 25% a goal. Whatever those numbers are, you as the leader need to help them either celebrate their success or change actions and activities so that they can get the results that they want and that you want.

So historically, I grew up in an area where the leader was kind of the front of the room guy and command and control as far as leadership. I believe today the world in that perspective has been flat, and it needs to be more collaborative.

Leadership today is collaborative.

The leader is not—nor should always be—the go-to person as far as understanding things. you have talent in an organization. Allow them to do what it is you brought them in the organization for.

So that is where that feedback and exercising through them is important. It is also a paradigm shift, because again, historically leadership was command and control out front. A general, hard charged CEO, those types of things as opposed to collaborative leadership.

Leading is Coaching

Rae Williams: You have a chapter in the book called “You are not LeBron James”—tell us a little bit more about that.

Jim Fischetti: Yeah, so excluding the current year where LeBron and the Lakers did not make the playoffs, LeBron has an incredible ability to pull an entire organization to incredible success. Leadership is not about you being incredibly awesome and doing all the work and pulling your people along.

If we stay in the same sports analogy, your job would be better to be like Coach K of Duke. The coach doesn’t win, doesn’t play, doesn’t make a bucket, doesn’t do anything on the court other than actually attract talent, develop the talent, and get the most out of the talent. And allow them to succeed.

There is that temptation that most of us think that we need to be in the limelight. We are not the leaders, not LeBron James.

If anything, we are the behind the scenes coach. So as a leader, if there’s success, I should not be out front. My people should be out front when we are celebrating success.

If there is a challenge or a failure, that’s when the leader is out front. You own the result and you take the arrows and you defend your people. That to me is what leadership is.

Visions Aren’t Small

Rae Williams: How does vision play into this whole thing?

Jim Fischetti: Vision is incredibly critical in the sense that while leaders has a vision of how things should be and, when that vision achieved, what the world will be like and how it will be better.

An example we use was a young software designer. Campbell was interviewing back in the ‘70s, interviewed with two of the leading PC companies. He met with the first one and he asked the leadership team what their vision for the personal computer was.

And they told him that, “Well we think the PC can be the next big holiday gift.” And that vision did not attract this young man to say, “Oh wow this is something I want to be a part of.”

So, he actually went to Commodore, and at that time, their stock value was about a dollar and they told him when asked the same question. They believed that the personal computer can double the value of their stock market value. Again, Mr. Campbell went, “That is not an overly exciting perspective.”

So, he ended up taking lunch with a guy by the name of Steve Jobs. He asked Steve Jobs the same question, and Steve Jobs went on to spend the next hour talking about how the personal computer would change the way we work, change the way we study, change the way we entertain ourselves, change the way we communicate, change the world as we know it.

Forty years later, I say we’re living in that world that Steve Jobs described.

Your vision is going to be so strong that it connects with the people. That is what attracts them to be a part of your organization. So in addition to being a vision that attracts people, a vision almost has to be outlandish.

What I mean by that is if it is a small vision, if I am listening to you share your vision and I think, “Well that’s nice but it doesn’t seem big,” then if I think, “Well you could do that on your own, there is no need for me to join forces with you.”

Somebody who has a really big vision, and when they share it and they realize, “Man it is going to take more than one person,” and you are attracted to that vision, then it creates the energy and the connection.

You have companies whose vision literally brings the talent in the door and brings the customer base because people align with the vision. That is the first. We connect through the vision. Then the second thing is on vision and leadership, the leader has got to then empower his or her people to achieve their role in the vision.

There is nothing worse than like probably than being responsible for an outcome, but not having the ability to do anything about it.

I think it was Bill Parcels—he’s a football coach, Hall of Fame Football Coach. He jokingly said about wanting to pick players: “Hey, if I am responsible for dinner, I ought to be able to buy the groceries.”

We need to make sure our people have the ability to achieve what it is that they want and their role in that vision. Then we, as the leaders, are then going to hold them accountable with that and we track and monitor results and the conversation with them and move forward. So, the vision is really the juice for the leader, the organization and the people and even for their customers.

A Challenge for Listeners

Rae Williams: If you had to issue a challenge that they can use to turn their business around or turn their leadership skills around, what would it be?

Jim Fischetti: So, the challenge would be one, to do a survey with your entire organization and see how many people could tell you the vision without being prompted. The reality is that a lot of people, a lot of organizations, the rank and file do not know the vision.

If they do not know the vision, then they are not going to be energized by it. As a leader, you need to own that. If your people don’t know the vision, it means you are not sharing the vision enough.

Now there’s Jack Welsh, he said that he spent 70% of his time sharing the vision. He jokingly said, “My mistake was I didn’t spend enough time.”

We really as a leader haven’t shared the vision enough until the people can say it back to us unprompted.

Rae Williams: Is there anything else that you think is important for leaders to take note of?

Jim Fischetti: So, one of the things that you always remember is people matter. If you want massive results, you can’t do it alone. You really only execute through people.

So, your people matter. They are incredibly talented. They are the most important asset in the organization. One of the things I like to think is you can love people without leading them. It is impossible to lead them without loving them.