Reprinted from the 3-1-12 edition of the Columbia Business Times:
The word vision comes from the Latin word visio, which means to see; but it’s is so much more than physical sight.
Vision is an awesome thing when used correctly, because as human beings, we’ve been given the ability of imagination. Imagination essentially allows us to “envision” things differently than they currently are. Isn’t that an amazing gift?
A vision is a picture or idea you have in your mind of yourself, your business, your life, etc. A clear vision helps you pursue dreams and achieve goals; it’s your own idea of what the future can look like. A clear vision will open your mind to the endless possibilities of the future.
Since the vision is at the forefront of leading the organization and the people in it, a clear vision is very necessary for leaders. Of course having a vision is only a part of the equation. Leaders also must be able to articulate and communicate the vision in such a way where there is buy-in from those who are following and helping to actualize the vision into something real and tangible.
When this is accomplished in the right way, the vision helps everyone overcome obstacles that spring up in the way and to hold on when times get tough, because everyone knows where the organization is going in the long-term. This tangible vision also helps maintain focus and creates a team purpose that becomes a measurement of success.
When you don’t have a strong vision of what you want the organization to be, you begin to lose focus and energy. It’s the same way in your personal life. When clarity and vision are lost, it seems everything that happens are random events in the organization’s existence and in your own life.
The people component in vision creation is very important, as a vision will have some reflection of the leaders’ own self. In creating a vision, some important things to consider would be:
What kinds of habits have you demonstrated in the past?
Can you clearly articulate the attitudes you possess concerning the future?
What is your worldview both of external situations and of yourself internally
Why are these things important you might wonder?
Because, again, coming up with a vision is only partially important, it’s also important how it’s communicated and how it’s received. If a leader comes forth with a bold vision that will require a lot of hard work and resiliency from the team to actualize, but there’s no evidence or history of that in the leader’s track record, the vision will become a victim of the culture the leader has previously created from their own leadership. This speaks to the credibility of both the leader and the vision. There must be a match between leader and vision if the it has any chance of being accepted.
A vision is the capability to see beyond your current reality, creating what does not now exist and becoming what you are not now.
Some other thoughts:
You must know exactly who you are as a leader when crafting a vision
If the vision is for an organization, you must have a clear handle on the state of your current culture if your vision is to have any chance of succeeding
You must allow yourself the time and ability to dream, brainstorm and use your imagination
You must resist the temptation to put limits on the capacity of your dreams or your dream time
Do the people who follow me on my team see my vision? Do they see the forest as well as the trees?
Can they articulate the vision as well as I can, as they talk to their followers, vendors or customers?
Does everyone know not only where we are going, but even more importantly, why?
Is where we are going compelling and appealing?