Leadership Distinction #12: Vision

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Do not broadcast your company’s Vision Statement. Here’s why:

The Vision that many companies document and issue out to the world as statements of direction do not read like Visions at all. And because they fail to describe something that can be envisioned they are unable to draw anyone to them.

A Vision should describe in as much detail as possible what a stretch-worthy but achievable future looks like. It should stir emotion – emotion sufficient to pull people in the organization toward it.

There are two reasons why businesses fail so badly to generate a rallying image of where they want to go. One reason for the lifeless words one typically reads is that business leaders are operating under a false assumption, that their Visions need to be publicized for the world to see. As a result, what gets written is safely devoid of anything that could be judged as being unaligned with a customer’s interests, or be scooped up as competitive intelligence by a market adversary.

Another reason is that many organizations believe their Visions should somehow be timeless. Given that a Vision of tomorrow should spur an action plan to get there, how do you realistically map out a progression of milestones to infinity, and beyond?

Leaders, keep your 2-to-3-year horizon future projections specific, clear, descriptive, and most of all, emotive. And to do that keep them private – by that I mean known only to you and those responsible for making that achievable future a reality. Save your timeless purposes — the reason why your company operates in the world — for your quite appropriately public mission statements.

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Episode 12