“A vision without a task is but a dream; a task without a vision is but drudgery; a vision and a task is the hope of the world” so says an inscription from the 18th century Sussex, England. In other words, a vision for leadership sets the way but it needs the right actions to make that vision a reality.
The impact of an inspiring leadership vision
The importance of vision in leadership lies in the fact that it gives hope. It inspires an organization towards a future goal such that people feel they are doing something that makes a difference. This makes goal setting much easier because everything cascades down from the vision.
A vision for leadership brings together the leader’s purpose and values. It also includes the leadership team so they can clearly communicate as one. In contrast, a lack of clear vision in leadership doesn’t just make a job meaningless, it also creates a team mainly driven by self-interest and short-term reactivity.
No matter your leadership style, it’s important to pick a vision that goes above and beyond the day-to-day. It still needs to acknowledge today’s challenges but be future-focused enough that people feel energized. In short, the vision taps into employees’ emotions and their intrinsic motivation because they belong to a group doing something special.
As we explained in a previous post on the importance of communication in leadership, with focus, empathy and letting go of the ego, you can mobilize people toward your vision. As part of this, great leaders leverage their vision to show others that they can be proud of what they are achieving.
Overall, a vision for leadership engenders the following so people want to go above and beyond:
- Passion and accountability: An inspiring vision gives people the courage to relentlessly achieve their goals. In essence, they want to do their part to make the vision a reality.
- Empowerment: People who align with a strong vision are comfortable with risk-taking in the right way because they are guided by a higher purpose. This makes problem-solving more innovative.
- Innovation and decision-making: A clear vision allows teams to balance long-term and short-term needs in their strategic planning. They also have the right guidance to allow for both creativity and stability.
What’s the best vision for your leadership?
A vision for leadership is created by exploring what makes you and your team special. Essentially, what do you offer to the world and what do you believe in? In his article on why we all need a just cause, Simon Sinek explains that a vision statement goes beyond simply stating what you believe in, it gives meaning to your life and those around you.
From there, you can develop your mission statement that explains what you and your teams are going to do to achieve the vision. Most importantly, you need the communication skills to instill this vision and mission into the fabric of your organization. This gives everyone the framework to build their resilience such that they can keep going through the tough days, including any necessary change management. In effect, the inspiration to reach the better world your vision paints is why people keep moving forward.
Vision and leadership are an obvious combination. Nevertheless, it’s also good for all of us to have a personal leadership vision. Without it, we stumble through life being directed by other people’s needs and dreams. Just like a lack of vision in leadership creates confusion and chaos, not having a personal vision leads to indecisiveness and regret.
Furthermore, as this study on the role of personal purpose and goals in symbiotic visions shows, the more aligned your personal vision is with that of the company, the more committed and engaged you feel. The art is for leaders to support those around them to find that alignment. This can be either through role modelling or by working with a language coach to fine-tune their communication.
What impact to expect from a business coach:
- Upskill leadership: Through tailored 1 on 1 sessions, coachees explore leadership techniques that they can practice on the job and later reflect with their coaches. Through the trust and rapport built up, coachees have the confidence to change their behaviors for greater performance.
- Skills-based coaching: Coaches hold up a mirror to blind spots but at the same time, they focus on skills. With a skills catalog to refer to, coachees define the traits they want to fine-tune to grow as leaders and generate greater impact.
- Improved team communication: Whether choosing business coaching vs executive coaching, you will most likely work on some form of communication. After all, relationships are the foundation of all business success. Moreover, you might find yourself working with a language coach to further explore how the words you use impact both your behaviors and that of those around you.
How can you define your vision for leadership?
The good news is that you don’t have to excel at visionary thinking to create a vision for leadership. You can work with a leadership coach to take you through some key questions. This means exploring why you are in this life and in this work as well as how you and your team impact people and communities.
- How will you build the future with your team? Work with your teams to develop a vision in leadership with both clarity and adaptability. Moreover, just like for goals, it needs to allow for milestones so that you can keep celebrating small wins along the way.
- Do you know your values? As a leader, you need self-awareness and emotional intelligence to connect with your values and inner purpose. You can then better drive team building for others to see how their inner purpose aligns with the overall vision. Furthermore, as this study on team emotional intelligence shows, emotional intelligence nurtures more positive emotions and greater unity.
- Ask your team key questions to keep the big picture in view. For example, how will whatever project or task take the organization closer to the vision? The more you talk about the vision in your day-to-day, the more you give it authenticity.
Some examples of big brands that developed a strong vision for leadership
As you can see, the following vision statements don’t just inspire employees but also communities all around the world. Each one gives hope that we are working towards a better world and building on strong values such as connectivity, innovation and curiosity. They are “just causes” that inclusively serve other people and can stand the test of time.
- Apple: To make the best products on earth and to leave the world better than we found it
- Google: To provide access to the world’s information in one click
- Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world
- Sony: To be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity
Finding your vision for leadership
The best vision for leadership brings together your values, beliefs and your view of a better future. It must be clear and inspirational such that it brings people together from all walks of life. Then you’ll have aligned and passionate teams who are driven to go above and beyond.
Everyone can define the right vision by working with a coach to connect with their values and inner purpose. It’s then a question of mobilizing your leadership teams to support them in aligning their personal vision with the overall company vision. From there, dreams truly do become reality and you can watch your organization reach beyond what even you imagined.