All leaders have a vision of the future: the leader “sees” what the future will look like if the organization achieves its goals. For example, if the goal is to be the most profitable company in the industry – what would that look like? What will be the product or services that are most worthwhile? Who are your vendors? What would a day at the office be like? What would interactions with customers be like? How will employees treat each other? The list of questions is limited only by the imagination.
Now, if the goal is to be the highest quality provider, the questions are the same. If the goal is to “play it safe” and be a market follower, or to be the low cost provider, the questions are still the same although the visions may be very different. One’s vision of the future describes every important aspect of how things will be if the strategy is fulfilled.
It is not as simple as one might think, since there are usually multiple goals and strategies, and the vision comes from a combination of many things – some of which might even be conflicting. However, the vision needs to be exciting, interesting and motivating. If it is not, then the leader needs to question himself or herself as to what needs to be done about it. Maybe there are minor adjustments needed in the strategy or maybe the leader needs a better understanding of the goals. Is the organization possibly headed in the wrong direction, and if so, what is to be done?
The reason it is so important to have a vision that is attractive, is because this vision must be shared with the rest of the organization. It is what will drive everyone towards the future so it has to be something that people want to be a part of. If they don’t subscribe to the vision as set out by the leader, there is a very real possibility that they will hold a different vision – one that they have formulated for themselves.
Here’s why a vision is critical: people work towards what they see as the future. If they don’t like what they see, they will drag their feet and even work against the goals. They may even believe they are working towards a goal while subconsciously subverting it. Unless the leader has made it clear what the future will look like and is able to get their team to hold the same vision, the environment becomes inefficient, stressful, and raises the odds that the target will be missed