Communicate Compelling Vision
Most successful organizations, whether for-profit or nonprofit, operate with a strategic vision. A vision is simply a clear image of what an organization aspires to be or achieve in the future. Here is a strong example from World Vision: “We are a Christian organization working to help communities lift themselves out of poverty For Good.”
A Strong Vision
A strong vision will focus energy on intended outcomes...
A strong organizational vision offers a number of important benefits. First, an organization’s vision drives focus and resources. The vision becomes increasingly more important as the organization grows bigger and more complex. Organizations cannot be all things for all people and all purposes. A strong vision will focus energy on intended outcomes, even if the outcomes are lofty and aspirational.
Second, and arguably most important, a strong vision statement should inspire and motivate donors, customers and employees with a sense of greater purpose. A well-crafted vision can help employees focus on the destination and not just the steps along the way.
Interstate Batteries vision statement serves as a well-known example: “To glorify God and enrich lives as we deliver the most trustworthy source of power to the world.” Notice that Interstate’s vision says nothing about batteries, but it does focus on a higher purpose. Interstate Batteries employees may take license through their vision to go above and beyond their duties to enrich the world around them.
Great Vision Deserves Great Communication
While many leaders and organizations spend countless hours and resources to create a compelling vision, they often fail to marry that vision with a highly integrated, ongoing, communication plan.
Many years back I led human resources for a large division of a well-known, multinational company. This company spent considerable time and resources creating a vision. Leaders made sure that the vision was displayed in company conference rooms around the globe. However, that is where the communication stopped. Very few employees knew what the company’s vision was; to this day, I confess I cannot remember it myself.
A Blueprint from John Maxwell
Organizations must work to ensure their vision statements become part of their organization’s DNA, and not just conference room art. How can leaders ensure their people are fully are aligned with the vision and equipped to act on it?
John Maxwell, American author, speaker and pastor, said it well: “Good leaders must communicate vision clearly, creatively, and continually. However, the vision doesn't come alive until the leader models it.”
Maxwell offers a simple blueprint for successful vision communication:
- Make the Vision Simple and Clear: The vision should be easy to remember and should articulate a future state that organization wants to achieve. Employees should be able to imagine this outcome on the horizon. The best vision statements inspire people to support the big picture, rather than focusing only on tasks.
- Communicate Creatively and Continually: The vision mantra must start early and never stop. Successful organizations build the vision into their recruitment process, training processes, and new hire boarding and integration processes. The vision should thoughtfully integrate into all employee communications and marketing. Internal and external messaging must dovetail in a complimentary way.
- Model and Reward the Vision: This is the most important step. Leaders must constantly display and model behavior that supports the vision. The CEO leads this imperative, which applies to every team leader. The organization must recognize and reward managers and employees based on their demonstrated modeling of the vision. Using Interstate Batteries again as an example, the company goes to great extents to recognize those employees who serve and make their communities better.
Developing a great vision statement is a key element of any company’s strategic plan. But it doesn’t stop there. Building and implementing a purposeful and ongoing plan to communicate and support the vision with your people will significantly enhance your overall organizational wellbeing.
David Alexander is Managing Director with The Human Capital Group, a part of Gallagher’s Human Resources & Compensation Consulting practice. With more than 30 years of executive recruitment and talent management experience, he is passionate about helping organizations find people who will thrive in their unique business and operating culture. Contact David at David_Alexander@ajg.com for consultation in developing and implementing a powerful vision to help your organization face the future with confidence.