I propose that oxytocin is also critical to the sustained engagement with a compelling vision. While adrenaline may surge after a stirring (and visionary) speech, it is the bonding power of oxytocin that motivates people to build on a vision through collaboration and community. Thus, the neurosciences are teaching us that organizational leaders of vision must not just excite people, they must also “bond” people to the new vision. Triangulation is required for a vision to be sustained. By this I mean that it is enough for two people to work together—a third element must be present if the working relationship is to be sustained. This third element is a shared vision (linked to a shared mission, set of values and compelling social purpose).
The “I-Thou” conception offered by Martin Buber provides us with guidance in this matter. According to Buber (a Jewish theologian), the “I-Thou” exists through God’s grace. Similarly, the Greek word “agape” refers not just to mankind’s relationship to some deity. It also relates to the ways in which we treat and care for other people on behalf of our religious beliefs.
In the 21st Century, we need not focus on the relationship between humankind and a deity—we can focus instead on the ways in which relationships are enhanced and sustained (“I-Thou”) when these relationships are based on a shared vision—when oxytocin is produced to bind people together and bind people to an organization and its vision (as well as mission, values and purposes). This is the key to enactment of a vision. It must induce a sense of community and shared commitment—hence cannot just be the product of one person’s sense of the future.
If people are bound together, at least in part, through commitment to a shared, compelling vision of the future, then it becomes obvious that the two key roles to be played by the visionary leader are keeping the vision alive and preparing a new vision. This usually means not only that the leader periodically reminds his or her colleagues of the vision, but also that the leader facilitates a periodic review of and updating of the vision. The leader of vision is in trouble if the vision either is ignored or if the vision is reached. Thus, there must always be a sense of something undone, of something yet to be done, of something worth doing.Download Article 1K Club