My Lesson in Dreaming BIG!
The most important aspect of a vision for an organization is that it evokes passion and hope. The two most important stakeholder groups who must resonate with this desired image of the future are those who work in the organization to achieve the vision and those who financially support the organization. The key to ensuring the success of a vision is leadership.
If you are the leader, the vision must be so strong for you that it is a part of the fabric of your very being. It’s the reason you accepted the leadership role in the organization in which you serve. Your passion for this vision is the focus of all that you do. If you are an employee, you will be happier, more productive and more effective if you resonate with the vision of the organization in which you serve.
Vision drives alignment, strategy, decisions, focus and energy. It motivates everyone’s ability and willingness to make sacrifices needed to reach the desired destiny. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) reminds us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Without vision, so will the effectiveness of the organization!
In 2008 I joined an organization as Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer. In 2016 I became its CEO. In this role I have had the opportunity to execute the leadership principles on which as a leadership/strategy consultant I coached CEO’s and their teams in the previous two decades. I had to practice what I had preached - a humbling experience to say the least, during which God has taught me many lessons.
What have I learned about stepping into a vision that belonged to an amazing founder, recasting that vision to be more relevant in today’s world while keeping the DNA strong? What have I gleaned about leading and engaging others in embracing a restated vision with the same passion I have, so that we can achieve it?
Our stated vision was, “Help ensure that the Gospel is presented in the power of the Holy Spirit with cultural relevance and sensitivity to all peoples, especially in non-evangelized nations of the world.”
I realized that this was more of a statement of what we do than a statement of the desired future state.
“The vision of an organization must be a picture of our desired results years into the future …”
The vision of an organization must be a picture of our desired results years into the future – our hope and dreams of what could be if we were successful in executing our mission. Our founder, Dr. John Edmund Haggai has a life long motto, “Attempt something so great for God that it is doomed to failure, unless God is in it.” Our earlier vision statement did not meet that criterion!
The route that made most sense was to engage others who had been in the organization much longer than me: employees, financial partners, trustees, retired leadership, and the leaders from developing countries whom we have equipped. I asked, “What do we want to achieve, as a result of equipping leaders to more effectively demonstrate and present the gospel of Jesus Christ to their own nations? If we are successful, what should be the end result?” It was a great exercise to have multiple stakeholder groups thinking together from across the 47 years of the organization’s existence.
From my previous work with organizations, I knew the resulting statement would be more effective if it was succinct, appealed to the heart, and was inspirational to all stakeholders.
I learned that it was best to capture phrases that represented the heart of our vision, in almost a brainstorming fashion, from all the stakeholders. The essence of everyone’s thinking would be packed into these phrases. If we all agreed that they represented the DNA of our future hopes and dreams, we could wordsmith later. As the CEO, I had to gauge the energy and passion around the conversation to ensure it was on target.
We had to do it ourselves. Certainly you can hire an expert to help facilitate your vision process, however if you are the leader of the organization, you MUST lead the process! You will own this vision and will employ it to marshal the time, talent, and treasure of all on the journey with you!
Our result: “Every nation redeemed and transformed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Every morning I go to work with a joyful heart, envisioning the future that God promised in Philippians 2:10-11: “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
As CEO of Haggai International, Dr. Bev Upton is committed to advancing the Gospel through strategically positioned, influential leaders, 110,000 strong in 188 nations. She also collaborates with 503 Haggai National Ministries in 117 nations who are equipping the leaders in their own nations to demonstrate and present the gospel.