“Vision isn’t everything, but it is the beginning of everything.” – David McAllister
How do you define vision?
In its simplest form, it is something that is seen.
So, how does that translate into leadership? I’m sure you know or have worked with someone that you would say “…they are great at casting vision!” What makes someone good at articulating vision? We are not talking about someone who is only a dreamer and never actions on those dreams, yet communication is a necessary step in leading others well. An effective leader has to be able to articulate a clear picture of the future in order to initiate any momentum with those they lead.
Vision is what leads the leader.
It shows people where they are going and compels them to act. It is a picture of the Mission that touches the heart more than the head. Therefore it is caught, not taught.
As mentioned earlier, vision requires more than articulation though. Vision needs to be aligned with and supported by mission, values, organizational structure / framework, leadership, operations and strategy. Difficulty is, typically one or more of these things are either missing or frozen in time. For example, maybe there is a clear mission but operations hasn’t changed in 20 years. Or there is a state-of-the-art operational infrastructure, but the framework of the organization enables miscommunication. Let me try and explain each of these a bit more…
Mission – this answers the question “why do we exist?”, a rallying cry for the organization – a same purpose and reason.
Vision – provides a snapshot of the mission; answers the question “where are we going?” and “what are we going to do?”; inspires action, ownership and conviction – a same dream and destination.
Values – defines how people work, live and interact; who they are becoming.
Framework – defines structure and how things are organized; who is needed where, doing what, for how long and to what degree.
Leadership – loyal to mission, vision and values; competent, with capacity for growth, proven capability, unquestionable character and a commitment to developing others.
Operations – roles, responsibilities, relationships, decision-making/authority structure, accountability, systems and processes. Operations should support the framework.
Strategy – the detailed planning that emerges from a gap analysis of where we are today and where we want to be tomorrow; goals, objectives, resource planning, contingency planning, etc.
A good strategic plan will create great results if aligned to the vision.
A poor strategy will fail miserably in achieving a great vision.
A great strategy will always (with great success) achieve a poor vision.
Both are a leadership failure.
Great vision demands great strategy.