The importance of leadership vision
A vision is your overview of the way things could be. It is your clear image of what you are working towards. In your role as a leader, you can see how things could be improved and made better. Putting all these pieces together in a format of how things should be will give you the overall leadership vision that helps you to get your ideas across powerfully, accurately, and quickly. Once you have a vision, you tell people about it and use it to lead people.
Sharing a vision is a central role of a leader – a leadership vision gives people a viewpoint, something to work towards and an idea of what things can be like. It helps people raise their hopes and expectations; it inspires them. When people are inspired, they are more likely to consistently work on something.
Leadership with vision also maximises commitment to the departmental or organisation’s goals and strategy. By framing the specific tasks within a grand vision, the visionary leader deﬁnes standards that revolve around that vision. When performance feedback is given – whether positive or negative – the singular criterion is whether or not that performance contributes towards the vision. The standards for success are clear to all, as are the rewards.
What a clear leadership vision means
Let us also consider the impact of the leader’s vision on ﬂexibility. The leader states the endpoint but generally gives people plenty of freedom to devise their own way of achieving it. They give people the freedom to innovate, experiment, and take calculated risks.
Working with a vision can have a positive impact and works well in almost any professional situation. It is particularly effective when a department or organisation is adrift. A leader with a vision charts a new course and engages people with a fresh long-term vision.
Leaders create and communicate a clear vision for the future by understanding and identifying core values and purpose. They clearly articulate and communicate the vision throughout the whole organisation.
In creating a vision, effective leaders provide a meaningful plan to succeed that defines their purpose and core values in a way that is meaningful, easy to remember, and transparent – without any hidden agendas. A memorable, powerful, yet motivational guiding statement is critical for a leader to create and communicate for any organisation.
Dare to dream about what you can do and what is possible to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to have big dreams. You can always scale your vision down to meet the realities of the situation, but big dreams allow you to think about ideas that may not seem likely, yet are in fact possible. Thinking big also forces you to think about the long term, which is always a useful thing to do. You have nothing to lose; it doesn’t cost you anything. Big ideas get people excited.
Values and purpose
Core values are values that are intrinsic to the organisation. They define what the organisation stands for and are fixed throughout time and cannot be changed. They are the essential and enduring beliefs of an organisation.
The core purpose is the organisation’s reason for being. Awareness of the core purpose is vital as everything stems from this. It is a long-term purpose that is never achieved. Whilst a goal can be achieved or a strategy completed, a purpose cannot be fulfilled.
Effective leaders are fully aligned to the core values of the organisation and so their vision is congruent with these. This builds trust, openness and honesty and enables these to be a fundamental tenet of how people engage and work with the leader.
Once a leadership vision is created, it must be communicated and articulated effectively so that it becomes the shared vision of everyone in the organisation. It will become the driving force that compels people to do something, change something and become something.
Communicating with clarity
Communicating your vision with clarity is vitally important because no one can decide to follow you until they know what direction you’re headed in. If your vision is one that touches a chord with many people and if you can communicate it well, people will be happy to join you in working towards your goals. Your goals then become their goals and so becomes a shared vision.
The vision needs to be communicated consistently. Subtle changes to the vision or ambiguity around the vision create confusion which will affect commitment and motivation.
Effectively communicating the vision means living the vision; that means doing what you say and practising what you preach. A good leader must also engage all managers and leaders in a way that creates alignment with their core values and purpose so that they, in turn, model behaviours consistent with the vision. It is through such action that everyone will believe in and live a meaningful manifestation of the vision.
Demonstrating your leadership vision
The vision should be shared at every opportunity available to them. Repetition breeds awareness, acceptance, and understanding of the vision. Most importantly, top leaders should always act in a manner consistent with the vision.
Powerful though it may be, specifying and communicating a vision will not work in every situation. The approach fails, for instance, when a leader is working with a team of experts or peers with much more experience; they may see the leader as arrogant or out-of-touch. Another limitation is if a leader tries to be authoritative and becomes overbearing, which can undermine the democratic spirit of an effective team.
Creating and communicating a vision is one of the most important activities a leader can perform. All leaders should understand the processes for crafting and communicating a clear vision and understand how to effectively work with that vision. Once leaders have created a sense of shared vision within their organisation, they will be able to lead and engage people much more effectively.
[The author has the rights to the image – purchased from iStockphoto]