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Vision, Inspiration and Motivation
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New leaders should cultivate a vision statement articulating what the organization should look like and how it should function in the future. A vision is a doable dream, or a simple, easy-to-comprehend and possible-to-accomplish goal. A vision trigger, (a statement, slogan, or picture that reminds people of the organization's vision) may also be developed so as to help communicate and reinforce the vision within the organization.

Visions are important to the extent that they channel and motivate an organization's energy in productive, change-affirming directions. Visions need to be practical, doable and genuine as well as attractive and idealistic in order to be useful, as their motivating power only occurs when employees are inspired by what they read. A good vision works like a contract or promissory note offered by leadership to employees. In order to be useful, a vision should be desirable and feasible for a particular organization to accomplish. It must fit with an organization's values, culture, and history. There must be a match or the vision will fail to motivate. For instance, the vision implicit in the political slogan, "a chicken in every pot", fit very well with American culture in the 1920's, helping President Hoover to gain high office. However, IBM's vision of a personal computer on each desk clashed with their "mainframe" culture and did not thrive. Other companies, however, including Intel, Microsoft and Dell took that perfectly good vision and ran with it to great success. A good vision statement is thus always a custom thing created to motivate within a given corporate culture. Going away for a weekend with a consultant to write a generic vision statement "just because we should have one" is likely to be a waste of time and money.

A good vision should be uplifting. It should set standards of excellence and reflect high ideals. A vision can be about what is possible even when it is not highly probable. The vision should clarify purpose and direction. It should define what the organization wants to make happen and define legitimate aspirations for people in the organization. A vision should inspire enthusiasm and commitment. Done properly, a vision can recruit diverse followers. The vision should be well articulated and readily understood. It will not inspire if it is not understood.

Even a well-articulated vision will not energize an organization unless the new leader communicates it regularly and ensures that the mission, goals, and objectives for the organization serve the vision. Even given a well constructed vision, and regular communication, the desired alignment of the organization's energies may not automatically follow. The leader should be prepared to provide feedback to the organization, using the vision as a compass, constantly reviewing direction and progress in relation to the vision.

The popular press has created a myth that successful companies begin with a vision and are headed by charismatic visionaries. This is not the case. Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Walmart and Marriott are all examples of successful companies that were not founded upon a great vision or by great visionaries. Business success requires a vision, but that vision need not be clear at the outset.

 

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