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The Power Of Vision In Action

Dr Niel Rall: CEO: Leadership Dynamics


Leadership Dynamics has facilitated Visionary Leadership programmes and Alignment of Purpose processes for more than 25 years. Normally, when starting to facilitate a vision alignment process, I would ask the CEO if his company has vision. The CEO would then often point to a frame on the wall and say: ‘This is our vision.’ When asked to explain the vision, he would usually only read the vision statement from the wall. My response would then be that I did not ask him whether his company has a vision statement, but if his company has vision. The CEO would then normally ask me what I meant. My response would be that a company only has vision when the following 4 requirements are met:

  1. Every employee in the company knows, understands and can explain the vision
  2. Every employee’s job purpose is aligned with the vision and everyone understands their roles to turn vision into reality
  3. Every employee is mobilised – passionate, inspired and energised – to turn vision into reality
  4. All employee behaviour is aligned with the vision and aimed at turning vision into reality


Dr. Niel Rall

A shared vision and alignment of purpose, is the single most important driver of transformation, innovation and performance excellence in any organisation. To illustrate the power of vision, Leadership Dynamics often facilitates the following exercise during visionary workshops:

Workshop delegates are divided into 2 groups and assigned different rooms, where they cannot observe each other. Each group is given a 100 piece puzzle, with the same level of difficulty. Group 1 is given their puzzle without the picture, but group 2 is given the puzzle with the picture. Group 1, however, is not aware of the fact that group 2 has the picture. The facilitator then explains to both groups that the objective of the exercise is to see which group can build their puzzle the quickest. Each group is also asked to record the process followed, as well as their emotional experience during the exercise.


Over the past more than 25 years, Leadership Dynamics has facilitated this exercise more than 500 times. Only once did group 1 (without the picture), complete the puzzle before group 2 (with the picture). We kept count of the number of pieces not fitted by the losing group. On average, the group without the picture, still had 42.4 pieces left by the time the group with the picture, completed their puzzle.


We would always ask group 1, who did not have a picture, to explain their process first. Bare in mind that, at this stage, group 1 is still unaware that group 2 had a picture. After the first group explained their unsuccessful attempt, the second group would be asked to explain their successful process. This group would then start their report back, by stating: ‘we started by first having a good look at the picture’.

It is quite an experience to observe the reaction of group 1, when they realise that group 2 had a picture. Common comments are: ‘it is unfair,’ they had an unfair advantage’ and ‘it is cheating.’ Not to even mention the expressions on the faces of the losing team.

The fact is: This exercise proves that having a clear picture (vision) of what you want to achieve, provides a team/organisation with a clear advantage for success (turning vision into reality). Based on this exercise, it statistically provides a 42.4% advantage over teams without a clear picture (vision).


Debriefing both groups on their emotional experiences during the exercise, the 6 responses with the highest frequency, as indicated in the table below, were almost exactly the opposite:

Low level of engagement High level of engagement
Quickly lost interest in exercise Remained interested throughout exercise
Frustration and irritation Enthusiasm, excitement and energy
Unpleasant experience Enjoyable exercise
Meaningless exercise Sense of achievement
Disempowering Empowering



About 10 years ago, Leadership Dynamics facilitated a visionary leadership programme and alignment of purpose project at Ster-Kinekor Theatres. We trained all managers down to the level of Complex Managers, in Visionary Leadership. The Complex Managers then communicated the Ster-Kinekor vision and explained their roles to turn vision into reality, to all front-line staff.

The core of the vision was ‘to offer all our customers a memorable escape into the magic of cinema, time and time again…..’

One evening I went to see a movie at a Ster-Kinekor cinema. As I was leaving the cinema, I noticed that one of the Cleaners, while waiting for customers to leave, before entering to clean the theatre, was talking to customers. She did not know me at all. As I walked past her, she asked me: ‘Sir, did you enjoy the movie?’ I said: ‘Yes, thank you very much for asking.’ She then responded by saying: ‘I am so glad; as I am proud to present customers with a pleasant entertainment environment. Please come again.’


© iStock - artursfoto

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