Image of a dense forest with tall trees and lush green foliage, text on leadership begins with vision and the star one logo

What makes a great leader? Is it the ability to come up with a goal and motivate your people to achieve it? That’s only scratching the surface. Most leaders think that telling their employees what the company’s main goal is for this year or next year is enough. Even if the current goal is very similar to those of years past, this doesn’t guarantee that every individual will be moving in the same direction at the same speed and with the same focus.

What some companies miss is that their people need to see beyond the stated short term direction. What brings a collection of human beings together with focus and energy is not only a directive – it actually starts with vision. We want to work hard and give it our all – not just because we’re told that this the direction for today, but because we have a clear vision of where we want to be in the near future.

Eyes on the Prize Begins with a Clear Vision

A true leader will describe and communicate a clear vision to each person in the organization so that everyone has their eyes on the same end result. Without a singular clear vision that everyone understands, this is where some organizations with talented people begin to unravel.

When there is no unilateral overarching vision that drives our energies and actions, some members of the organization will start to believe that their definition of the goal is different and better than someone else’s. This is where a group stops growing in unison and individuals start jockeying for position.

In order to delegate work and empower the people in your team, there needs to be a shared understanding of the fundamental purpose which drives the ultimate vision. A vision should respect the past, while preparing for the future. So you’ll write a vision – now what?

How Do You Truly Implement a Vision?

Let’s face it, printing your company or department vision on heavy bond paper, framing it in gold and displaying it proudly on your wall is nowhere near enough. Everyone on the team must work daily with that one vision in mind – it should be lived every day in every way. It’s not a nice team building or corporate planning exercise to be appreciated for a few minutes and then ignored. Stating but not working your vision improves nothing and invites discouragement.  

What makes a great company vision? It should be succinct, clear, motivating and exciting. It should guide the organization and everyone in it while leaving room to consider new targeted and cohesive opportunities.

A clear vision will be derived from examining your values and principles and what you want your company to be in the future. It is a statement of your company’s achievable potential which provides a common focus and maps out a clear direction.

Getting Started In Creating An Exciting and Effective Vision

Your vision should be concise and meaningful to everyone who is expected to follow it. To make it powerful and useful, work hard on editing it down to its bare essentials so the result is memorable and poignant.

 To get you started, ask yourself such questions as

  • What is your organization especially good at?
  • What do you want your organization to look like in the next 3-5 years?
  • What changes do you expect to see in the demand for your products or services over the next five years?
  • What should your team use to determine if you’ve succeeded, and how satisfied are you that you are measuring important criteria?

Of course, that’s just the starting point. You’ll dive into more details when you begin to work on your vision. Once you’ve determined your vision, it’s useless unless it’s effectively communicated.  Following are some keys to remember:

  1. Keep it simple, without over-used corporate or technical jargon. If people suspect you’ve pulled together “pretty or important sounding words” then it has no meaning for your team and inspires no one to act on it.
  2. Paint a clear picture so that all involved can visualize the result. A natural way to do this is use examples, and analogies to draw it out in distinct lines.
  3. State it everywhere. Use it in speeches, memos, articles, and even informal conversations. 
  4. Don’t be afraid to repeat it. Ideas sink in deeply only after they have been heard many times. You can’t expect people to feel confident in their understanding if they’ve only seen or heard it once or twice.
  5. Lead by example. People will believe your actions more than your words. Every decision you implement must be directly aligned with the vision.
  6. Don’t do all the talking. Be prepared to listen, because no one person has all the answers.

 A company or organization's vision is critical. It’s the foundation upon which everything else is built. The next step it so define your mission. Creating a mission without first defining your vision is like getting on the road just to drive “north” without knowing where you’d like to arrive.

If you believe your organization would like some guidance in declaring your vision, you’ll want to attend my Leadership Webinar Series in 4Q2024. Please contact me for more information and be on the lookout for registration.