Why it's critical to have a vision

The first sentence of the introduction of my book, Unshackled Leadership, states: “After 20+ years of working in and observing organizations of every type and size, I have noticed a theme all successful ones share. They have enthusiastic, confident, optimistic, appreciative and happy people who work together on behalf of a future they have all committed themselves to.”

I’ve written extensively in the past about the first part of that statement and now want to address the second part: “work together on behalf of a future they have all committed themselves to.” How you accomplish this is with a “vision.” Does your company have one? Some companies have yearly goals. Some even have a 5 year plan. Some do strategic planning. But rarely do we find companies with a true “vision.”

A vision is a complete sense of what your company could be/might be some time in the far distant future. It’s something that you work toward without any sense of when it will be fully realized, perhaps never. It’s the light in the distance that gives meaning to everything you do. It’s what your company would look like, some day, if anything and everything was possible, which it is, and your company could truly be a dream come true. You can find a series of questions to ask to formulate your company vision in Chapter 19 of Unshackled Leadership, available at www.thpalliance.com.

Why is having a vision so important? I’ll deal with one of many reasons here: it’s inspiring. In the USA, job satisfaction is at an all time low. Only 45% of people surveyed in 2009 reported satisfaction with their job. Can you imagine what that costs companies in terms of lack of creativity and productivity and in absenteeism and turnover? The costs are staggering.

One of the many reasons for this is that most people who work for companies have no clue what the company is all about, why it even exists, and where it’s going. Most employees think their company is about making money, for the owners, and I’ve never met anyone other than an owner who was inspired by that. A vision gives people a sense of where they fit in, what they are working for, what opportunities lay ahead for them and what they can someday look forward to. It gives them a reason to get up in the morning and go to work and something they can feel proud of being part of.

So if you want to have a turned on, enthusiastic, motivated workforce, a great first step is to create a vision for the future.

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