Leaders have vision. Leaders can describe what the future will look like if we only have faith in them. So what, we can all say "wouldn't it be nice if.....?" The difference is they have the power to make it happen or rather, "together we can make it happen". Can we ? "Yes we can" President Obama said repeatedly in one of the most inspiring taking up office speeches. Nice sentiment but experience tells us the vision is over sold and the obstacles underestimated. Too often leaders whether Prime Ministers or chief executives think that articulating the vision and getting the policy agreed is all that's needed for things to happen but all too often as a former President said you pull the levers and nothing happens.
It's like the spoof on the children's programme Blue Peter where the presenter announces at the beginning of the show that ," Today we are going to learn how to play a musical instrument and how we can cure all known diseases". Another presenter picks up a flute and explains that to play the flue you put your fingers over the holes and blow. Next how to cure the world of diseases, go to medical school and study medicine for five years, become a famous doctor and develop a cure for all known diseases. Experience tells us it's a bit more complicated.
So we all agree we should have a fairer more just society, one that protects the vulnerable and aims to improve everyone's quality of life. The difficulty comes when we get to the specifics of how this will be achieved, higher taxes to properly fund the NHS or private health insurance with a safety net for all. People are concerned about pollution and climate change but don't want to give up their motor car or have restrictions on flying off to holiday destinations. In local government terms most people think recycling is a good idea but don't want the bins to be emptied less frequently or have a large industrial incinerator plant in their neighbourhood.
Leaders need vision, they need to be able to inspire with their picture of the future but they also need to say what it will mean for their audience, what changes will be necessary to achieve this better future, what sacrifices will have to be made and by whom and if some disagree or see it as not in their interests how will this be dealt with? We can all sign up to the vision but what we want to know is how are we going to get there ?
Wouldn't that be nice.