Connection Point Blanchard Keynote Recap
ATD Blog

Effective Leadership Starts in the Heart

Thursday, June 4, 2020

“How do you want to serve?” That’s what your personal vision statement is all about, said Ken Blanchard in his Thursday keynote session during the Association for Talent Development’s Virtual Conference.

The hands-on session walked attendees through building their own compelling vision statement. And while Blanchard provided anecdotes of how personal vision statements are reflected in business at the top levels, he pointed out that all of us benefit from creating our personal vision statement.

“It’s about you, but it’s not for you,” said Blanchard. Effective leadership, needed all the more in today’s environment, is something that comes from the heart.

Develop a personal mission statement

The first part of the process is the mission statement. That is your purpose or the business you are in. The mission statement may change over time, but the idea is to provide a clear description of who you are and your overarching goals.

“Why bother?” posed Blanchard, perhaps enunciating the question of some attendees. He elaborated because your mission statement will help you determine whether you are walking your talk and living what you say your purpose in life is. Further, it makes it easier to say no to things that will take you away from who you are and what you value so you can devote energy to what really matters to you.

Connection Point Blanchard Sketch Notes
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There are several different avenues for discovering your mission statement—a differentiation Blanchard made clear when he said, “You don’t create your mission statement—you discover it.” The first is by listing three important successes you’ve had in your life and parsing out the elements of those successes.

A second option is to reflect on the events or people in your life who have affected your leadership philosophy and then explore the values that are reflected in those events or people. A third possibility, Blanchard continued, is to contemplate a life or job that someone has that you would like to have.

Finally, you can create a vision board, in which you cut out pictures from magazines that reflect what you want and value. This is a good exercise for New Year’s Eve as you look toward the year ahead; you can also review your past vision boards to see what has changed.


Find your purpose

Your purpose or mission statement is the first part of a compelling vision, a process that Blanchard and co-author Jesse Lyn Stoner wrote about in Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life. Another way to home in on that purpose is to find a few personal characteristics—using nouns—that you feel good about.

From there, select a few verbs that depict how you like to interact with others, such as “teach,” “motivate,” or “plan.” Next, answer these questions: What does a perfect world look like to you? In that perfect world, does everyone build others up? Do people know their destination?

Finally, assemble those three steps accordingly: Choose two nouns, two verbs, and the definition of a perfect world to craft your mission statement.

Picture the future

Once you have your mission statement, create a picture of the future, Blanchard encouraged. He outlined two exercises to assist with this process.

The first is what he called a “fantasy day.” Conjure up a perfect day and answer these questions: Where are you living? With whom? What are you doing, hour by hour, during this day? What are you feeling through the day?


A second exercise, which sounds in complete contrast to a fantasy day, is to write your own obituary. In it, answer such questions as: How do you want to be remembered? What did you accomplish? What are you most proud of?

Center on your personal values

Next, delve into your personal values. These are what will guide your journey. They may be truth, wisdom, humor, success, or a list of many other qualities that are important to you.

Once you have your top values, Blanchard said to define each value through examples of specific behaviors: “I know I live this value any time I ….”

Live out your purpose

Finally, it’s important to bring your vision to life. You can make that happen by starting your day slowly, reflecting, meditating, or journaling.

Throughout your day, think about what your mission is going to be. Blanchard advised to consider: Who do you want to be in the world?

At the end of your day, ask yourself whether—and how—your day was both consistent and inconsistent with your vision. Praise yourself for a job well done and redirect behavior you want to change. Those steps will help you to be clear on who you are, to live accordingly, and to be effective leaders.

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About the Author

Connection Point is the daily news source written by ATD staff for the ATD Virtual Conference, relaying news, session coverage, and other updates.

1 Comment
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Leading truly starts in the heart! Ken illustrated how a true leader lives out the values by walking the talk. With eyes on the future a Leader - create a fantasy day and write your own obituary! This is insightful. Thank you Ken. ATD Conference 2020 is Super!
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