Last week, I attended a luncheon where Steve Forbes was the special guest. He spoke about the importance of having a long term focus. “We have to remember to step away from the daily demands of our in-boxes and keep an eye on the big picture,” Forbes said. What does it mean to focus on the big picture?
Winston Churchill personified a leader’s long term focus. I started a Churchill biography recently and his war time messages to the British people struck me as a beautiful example of leadership vision. In the dark days before the World War II, outmatched with an overwhelming and evil opponent staring at Churchill’s tiny island from across the narrow English Channel, he defiantly and decisively declared Britain would have, “victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory no matter how long and hard the road may be.”
He believed in his people and believed freedom would triumph over tyranny, no matter what anyone else thought. He clearly and emotionally communicated his long term focus to his followers constantly until they achieved their victory.
Today, people describe Churchill as courageous, resolute, and inspiring, one of history’s greatest leaders. I wouldn’t mind being described that way. Management is about navigating the day-to-day demands of the business. To me, becoming a leader is about creating and sharing a dream of how the future could be. If I can believe in the dream, believe in my people and communicate a long term focus clearly and emphatically, we might all get there some day.