What are America’s key national goals?

(This is the sixth installment in my twelve-part blog series A Leadership Vision for America)

In the past several weeks, I have gone into detail about the first secret our government leaders need to know to improve our system in Washington:  Have a compelling vision.  For a compelling vision to endure, all three elements—a significant purpose, a picture of the future, and clear values—are needed to guide behavior on a day-to-day basis. A perfect example of this is the way Martin Luther King, Jr. outlined his vision in his “I Have a Dream” speech. By describing a world where his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he created powerful and specific images arising from the values of brotherhood, respect, and freedom for all—values that resonate with those of the founding values of the United States. King’s vision continues to mobilize and guide people beyond his lifetime because it illuminates a significant purpose, provides a picture of the future, and describes values that resonate with people’s hopes and dreams.

Once you have a clear and compelling vision, you can establish goals that help people determine what they should focus on right now. In his book Educating Voters for Rebuilding America, Jack Bowsher suggests six potential national goals that would achieve the picture of the future he proposes:

  • Peace with strong defense and Homeland Security systems
  • Prosperity and a rising standard of living with high level of employment
  • Adequate and affordable health care system for all
  • Superior and affordable education systems
  • Efficient and affordable government
  • Decent retirement for senior citizens

I think Jack is really on to something with these goals. I would love to see each of our presidential candidates identify the key goals he wants to accomplish nationally, and then spell out his plans and programs to achieve those goals. Rather than debates, candidates could participate in goal accomplishment sessions: First they would have to agree on the key goals to accomplish in the country within the next four years, and then each would give his own strategies to achieve each goal.

Wouldn’t you love to hear our candidates lay out their specific goals for America and then clearly explain how they expect to accomplish those goals? Do you think this idea is realistic, unrealistic, optimistic, idealistic, or something else?

Next time, we will move on to the second secret for how our leaders in Washington can turn things around:  Treat citizens as their business partners.

Do America’s Leaders Have Any Agreed-Upon Values?

 (This is the fifth installment in my twelve-part blog series A Leadership Vision for America)

Our leaders in Washington first need a compelling vision if they are going to move this country in a positive direction.  In recent posts I’ve covered two elements of a compelling vision: A significant purpose—what business we are in as a country; and a picture of the future—where we are headed.

The last component of a compelling vision is having a clear set of operating values. What will guide our behavior as we move forward?  This is critical.

I’m amazed that of all the organizations I’ve worked with or visited around the world, fewer than ten percent have had a clear set of operating values. Without values, it is a free-for-all. Even those organizations that have a set of values often have too many values. It’s hard to remember eight, ten, or twelve values—much less have them guide your behavior. They may be framed beautifully and look nice on the wall, but they have little meaning to anyone. So what you want is a few values—three or four—that people can focus on and live by. Continue reading

What is America’s picture of the future?

(This is the fourth installment in my twelve-part blog series A Leadership Vision for America)

Last time, as part of my thoughts on what we can do to make a positive difference in Washington, I gave you the first component of a compelling vision: having a significant purpose. The second aspect of a compelling vision is a picture of the future. What do you want to be true in the future that is not true today? If you do a great job at what you’re doing, what will happen?  Focus on the end result, not the process of getting there. And your picture of the end result should not be abstract—it should be a mental image you actually can visualize.

Continue reading

Do we know what business we are in as a country?

(The third installment in my twelve-part blog series A Leadership Vision for America)

In my last installment, I introduced the idea that successful organizations are led by someone with a compelling vision.  A compelling vision comprises knowing who you are (your significant purpose), where you’re going (your picture of the future), and what will guide your journey (your values). Let’s take this concept, one segment at a time, and apply it to Washington. Continue reading

Do America’s leaders really know where they want to lead us?

(The second installment in my twelve-part blog series A Leadership Vision for America)

The first of my four secrets toward effective solutions in Washington is really not a secret at all—I have been promoting it as a requirement for organizational success for over thirty years:

The First Secret: Have A Compelling Vision

Assumption:If people don’t have a larger purpose to serve, the only thing they have to serve is themselves.

We are in desperate need of a clear and compelling vision for our country. A vision is a picture of the future that produces passion, and it’s this passion that people want to follow. An organization without a clear vision or goals is like a river without banks—it stagnates and goes nowhere. Continue reading