Leaders set the direction for their organization. And, one potent way they do this is through creating a compelling company vision.
While I use the words company vision, you could apply the advice in this article to any form of organization. You can even apply it to sub-divisions of an organization.
What Is a Company Vision?
Vision is an essential part of transformational leadership. And, researchers have linked transformational leadership to higher levels of staff satisfaction, motivation and performance. So, your vision for your company matters.
The Apple Tree Analogy
John Kotter uses a simple apple tree analogy to explain how company vision works.
One leader takes charge and starts commanding people to get up and move. ‘Move now,’ she screams. She then continues barking in much the same way as a drill sergeant.
A leader of a different group manages the move down to the last detail – ‘hop up, leave your personal belongings on the ground, march towards the apple tree, do not get closer than 2 feet from anyone else, leave your personal belongings.’
A third leader says to her group, ‘it’s going to rain soon, why don’t we walk over to that apple tree. We can stay dry and have fresh apples for lunch.’
It was the third leader who used vision. Yes, the vision she used was with a small group of people, rather than a company vision, but the lesson remains the same.
This example shows that a company vision does not have to be complicated, complex or mystical. Nor is it about hanging a vision statement on the wall.
Rather, it is about motivating people to move in a particular direction.
What Makes A Vision Compelling?
Some authors have described the characteristics of a compelling vision. But, only a few are backed up by empirical research.
Leadership Sage is dedicated to offering you evidence-based advice. So, the 7 elements of a compelling company vision listed below are based on this research.
Compelling Company Vision Element 1: Be Desirable
The first thing that makes a vision compelling is its desirability. You want your vision to inspire, motivate and offer direction to those you lead. So, you must ensure that it appeals to their hopes, ideals and values.
Compelling Company Vision Element 2: Be Clear
Secondly, you must make sure that your vision offers people a clear picture of what the desired future looks like. You want your vision to give direction to those you lead. A vague or fuzzy picture will not be able to do this.
Compelling Company Vision Element 3: Be Broad
Your company vision needs to be clear. But it must also be broad. You want it to guide people’s actions, while still allowing your staff to apply it creatively to their own work. Moreover, you want to motivate your followers in an ongoing way. Specific goals lose their motivational value once they have been met.
Compelling Company Vision Element 4: Be Challenging
To be motivating, your vision must be challenging and even audacious. Yet, it must also be realistic. If your vision is not challenging enough, it will not motivate your staff to do anything different to what they are already doing. But, if people don’t believe it is achievable, it won’t motivate them either.
Compelling Company Vision Element 5: Be Focused on the Long-Term
Goals and objectives focus on short-term results, while vision focuses on the long-term. Your vision needs to guide your staff far into the future. This is essential due to the scope and scale of the challenge inherent in your vision.
Compelling Company Vision Element 6: Be Concise
A compelling company vision is concise. But not to the point of being meaningless or unclear. You must be able to explain your vision in less than 5 minutes. And, as a general rule, it should be made of less than 23 words. This allows you to integrate it into all of your communications and it helps others to remember it.
Compelling Company Vision Element 7: Be Stable
While it may be worth refining your vision periodically, you don’t want to be changing it every other day. So, a good vision must be able to endure foreseeable changes in the environment, including changes in technology.
Compelling company visions are:
- Focused on the long-term
Sample Company Visions
Company Vision for Audi
Company Vision for Google
Company Vision for Ben & Jerry’s
Company Vision for Harvard University
Company Vision for PayPal
Company Vision for Amazon
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