MANY years ago, I had the privilege of meeting the founder and former chairman of Sony Corporation, Mr Akio Morita.
I was among a group of 27 handpicked graduating students who were given the opportunity to ask him questions about his success.
One of the first questions asked was: “You built up this company from nothing into one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. How did you do it? What’s the secret?”
Mr Morita calmly said: “At Sony, we have a very simple vision; we do not invent anything from scratch.
“What we do is watch trends, then borrow technology, take technology invented from scratch by someone else, and then make it smaller and better… with more features, miniaturise it and then market the hell out of it!
“Everyone from top to bottom of Sony Corporation understands this vision. It is simple and clearly understood.”
Why any leader must have a vision
Former American president Bill Clinton thought of becoming a doctor or a reporter or even a musician as a teenager.
But after a fateful meeting with president John F. Kennedy, he made up his mind to enter politics.
At that moment, a vision was born that he would hold onto — that he would play in his mind over and over — until he himself was elected president at the age of 46.
What is your organisation’s vision for the future? Is it written down? Do you often review it and think about it? Is your work organised around goals and objectives that will ensure the vision is reached?
Mr Morita asked how many of us had written our goals down on paper.
He also encouraged us to take another step: Share those goals with someone we trusted, someone who would be willing to nudge us along, keep us focused and remind us of our goals and to stay on track to achieve them.
Mr Wallace D. Wattles, the author of The Science of Getting Rich, wrote: “There is no labour from which most people shrink as they do from that of sustained and consecutive thought; it is the hardest work in the world.”
And yet it is the “sustained and consecutive thought” about your vision that is the first and primary labour of achievement.
What you see, you can pursue
Many times, we get excited about an idea or a business and then after a while, our focus and enthusiasm diminish.
Often, we lose focus because we cannot see what we are pursuing. We do not have a physical or mental picture of what we desire to achieve.
One of the ways successful people stay so focused and accomplish so much is by having a few physical reminders about what they and their staff are pursuing.
If you look at the wall and desk of any great leader, you will find his personal and company mission statements, annual objectives and weekly priorities. These help him focus on what is important.
If you cannot see what you are after, how will you know where you are going or what you want to achieve? Put your goals in front of you so that you can see them often.
Here are some guidelines on becoming a good leader:
Start with a clear, concise vision;
Write it down;
Make sure you can see it;
Review it daily;
Share it with people who will help you;
Focus on it; and
Give it your dedication and commitment.
Leadership is both personal and corporate. It starts with you and influences the entire company and all the people around you.
Ask yourself: “What is my vision?”
Then write it down. Be clear, be concise, be honest.
Next, share it with someone you trust — father, mother, sister, brother, best friend, husband or wife — someone whom you know will commit to helping you fulfil or move towards accomplishing your written vision or goals.
First you visualise, then you actualise.
All the greatest athletes or sportsmen have learnt this and applied it in their success, from Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan to Muhammad Ali and many others. All the great corporate leaders do exactly the same.