Originally posted on Quality Digest by Jesse Lyn Stoner
Does your vision sound something like this? “Our vision is to provide aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best value for consumers.”
Bad news. You have a blah, blah, blah vision. Do yourself and everyone on your team a favor: Take it down.
You have two choices. You can decide you don’t need a vision and get on with your work. Or, you can engage with your team in creating a driving vision—one that lives in the hearts and minds of everyone and naturally drives behavior and decisions.
A driving vision is a clearly articulated, results-oriented picture of a future you intend to create. It’s a dream with direction.
When it is shared, it generates a tremendous amount of energy that drives you where you want to go. If you are in doubt, here are eight ways vision creates a powerful, driving force.
The seven characteristics of a DRIVING vision
When your vision meets these seven criteria, you will be DRIVING in the right direction.
The invitation and opportunity to achieve greatness excites and enlivens us. A noble purpose that challenges us to rise to our potential is inspiring and appeals to our natural human instincts. It helps us understand the importance of our work and gives meaning to our daily activities.
A vision describes a clear picture of what the future will look like—something you can actually see in your imagination. It is a picture of the end result—what it looks like when you are fulfilling your purpose. It does not include the process to get there. The vision is the target. The effectiveness of the strategies and goals you set will be tested by how well they move you toward your vision, and often they require adjustment.
It is easier to stay focused and motivated when the vision connects with what we care deeply about—our values. And when the vision has been taken into the minds and hearts of the people, it endures beyond the tenure of the leader who articulated it. Values are implicit in driving visions. (e.g., the values in Martin Luther King’s “Dream” are clearly implied: brotherhood, freedom, and dignity.) The values must be fundamentally connected with the organization’s purpose. A vision for a financial services organization might include values like accuracy, reliability and dependability while the vision for an amusement park might include fun and safety.
Creating a vision about what you want—a proactive vision—is what makes it vibrant and energizing. A reactive vision based on negativity and what you want to get rid of is short-lived because it doesn’t take you anywhere. A vision that excludes or does harm to its environment isn’t sustainable because the organization is part of its environment and ultimately is doing harm to itself.
It should explain in plain language what the company is about—what is unique about it that differentiates it from others. A generic blah, blah, blah statement means nothing, makes people lose confidence in the leadership of their company, and turns off customers. Too many vision statements are wordsmithed to death.
A vision should not be about beating the competition. Where do you go after the race is over? It’s about being the best you can be. An enduring vision continues to provide guidance. The farther you proceed, the clearer your vision becomes and the more the magnitude enlarges. There is no such thing as a five-year vision, only a five-year goal. The vision answers, “What’s next?” after that goal is achieved.
When the organization is guided by a shared vision, the role of leadership naturally shifts from controlling and managing to supporting and enabling. Empowerment only makes sense in the context of a shared vision. When everyone understands the vision, is committed to it, and sees where they fit and how their actions contribute, they can be trusted to make decisions.
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