The most pathetic person in the world is someone with sight, but has no vision. – Helen Keller
Do you know and understand the vision of your organization? Better yet, do you understand the role you play in fulfilling that vision? If your answer was no, you are not alone. In fact, sad to say, you are in the majority.
Recent research by European Leaders found that sixty eight percent of employees questioned did not understand their company’s vision. Which raises the question of why not? The report also revealed that only eighteen percent of respondents from the same survey viewed the company they worked for as a good organization.
John Maxwell said, “People who understand how important their part is are motivated to persevere and work with excellence, even in the face of obstacles and problems.” He’s right. Yet the glaring mistake made by many in management is an expectation to “fall in line” without their employees knowing where the line is going much less understanding it. This is not a management problem; it is a leadership problem.
Maxwell shares the example of what can happen when people understand their role and how they can make a difference. During World War II in a parachute factory, workers made the parachutes by the thousands. But it was a painfully tedious job. They spent long hours at a sewing machine stitching miles of plain white fabric.
Every morning workers were reminded that every stitch was a part of a lifesaving operation. Their husbands, brothers, or sons might wear the parachute they sewed that day. Those lives could not be saved without their efforts. The fact that the vision was continually before them and they knew it would not be completed without them kept them going.
In their international bestseller, Full Steam Ahead, Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner define vision as “knowing who you are, where you are going, and what will guide your journey.” And this is the heartbeat of your organization and without it you are drifting. Here are three guiding thoughts to help you understand vision and why you can’t lead without it.
Vision defines your values. Values are the guiding principles that your organization lives by. These are the bedrock principles that keep you grounded during times of prosperity, and stable in times of adversity. They do not change with your circumstances but give you clarity when they do.
Brian Tracy said, “Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” When the vision of your organization is built around shared values it makes going forward with clarity possible.
Vision clarifies your mission. Your mission helps you understand what business you are really in. When 68 percent have no idea what their company’s vision is, then it is only logical to conclude that they do not have a grasp of their mission either. How effective do you think employees will be without this understanding? Consequently, how productive or profitable do you think that company will be?
Jack Welch said, “It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over time without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” When the mission of your organization flows out of shared values then you are on the fast track to fulfilling your purpose.
Vision directs your priorities. The sign of a clear vision is that you are governed by a shared set of values. When each person knows the mission and their role it builds a strong sense of purpose and destiny. The establishment of these priorities does not make you immune from problems or guarantee ideal opportunities; it simply helps you to look at them through the prism of your values.
The 68 percent matter not because they exist. They matter because you now know it and inaction about vision is no longer an option. Creating a shared vision empowers you to dream together, work together, and succeed together. Define your values, embrace your mission, and live out your priorities. Your vision is your blueprint to success.
© 2012 Doug Dickerson
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