Too often as leaders we live in the weeds as we deal with day-to-day problems and issues. Creating and maintaining a vision of what is possible and desirable for organizations is important so that we can continue to move in the direction that leads to individual and organizational fulfillment.
The vision I hold of organizations is that they are dynamic, vital, nourishing places to work in which people set and achieve challenging goals and take responsibility for their own success. Employees go out of their way to satisfy their internal and external customers, act to improve quality, and learn and grow to become more satisfied and effective team members and employees. Employees engage in conflict constructively to reach sound decisions, and communicate openly and directly throughout the organization. They take initiative and seize opportunities for themselves and the organization, and act on their own to solve problems. They pride themselves on their innovation and their creative approaches to product and business development. They anticipate the consequences of different options and alternatives, and make decisions based on their analysis. In this visionary organization, employees are encouraged and supported to work at their highest potential, and succeed at doing so.
Managers in this organization lead by example. They display the above characteristics to an even greater degree than other employees. They are excellent motivators and developers of people, giving their subordinates constructive feedback and coaching to help them improve their performance. They help employees align themselves with organizational initiatives and objectives, and build organizational commitment through creative and continually changing methods.
Senior executives are strategic thinkers and visionary leaders who understand industry trends and develop long term strategic plans based on the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and competitive position. They communicate a vision for the organization and the individuals in it that inspires employees to stretch themselves and work together to achieve the vision. They view the development of leaders as one of their most important job functions, and look for opportunities to expand managers’ responsibilities and opportunities.
Finally, all employees, from the CEO down to the most unskilled workers, are committed to continually learn and improve themselves. They are known for their honesty, integrity, and personal credibility. People can be counted on to do what they say will do. They admit and take responsibility for their mistakes, and put themselves at personal risk to take stands based on their deeply held values.
As a consequence of the commitment, behaviors, and traits manifested by all its employees, the organization is recognized as the industry leader and universally respected for its integrity, values, and business success. Its retention rate is the highest in its industry, and it attracts quality candidates more easily than any of its competitors. It is known as a place where people work hard and morale is high.
Your Vision and Your Current State
Does any organization live up to this vision? Unlikely. However, by analyzing the gaps between this vision and your reality, you can identify the key campaigns and initiatives that need to be strategized and executed to reduce the gap and improve organizational effectiveness.
It takes courage to create and hold a powerful vision in the face of the struggles organizations face in today’s world. Yet the bigger the vision you hold, the more powerful a leader you have the capability of being. Of course, vision is not sufficient. You also need strategy and tactics, and the intention and ability to execute.
Your culture and your people largely determine both your current state and what it will take to achieve your vision. And, as a leader, your intention is the main driver to help your organization become what it can be.
It is worth doing. By creating an inspiring vision and engaging your organization in the journey to achieve the vision, the whole organization will benefit, as well as every stakeholder.
Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.