You hear it in the news media, talk shows, and even advertisements. People love to talk about vision.
But what is vision in leadership?
I know I can go to 10 or 20 different people and get 10 or 20 different answers. There will be good answers, and some vague answers. But most will be different.
Here's what I learned about leadership vision from 35 years of experience.
What is Leadership Vision
First, leadership vision is not a dream. A leader's vision is anchored in reality. They seek what is achievable and do so by seeing opportunities their team may not believe possible for them.
A solid leader develops a vision from internal and external resources. Leaders know where they are right now. They use what they see, hear, and live to create a path to something bolder than the typical person in their team, company or organization imagines.
Why is Vision Important in Leadership?
Does your company have a vision? Is it clear and specific enough to create your vision as a leader to achieve your next big goal?
A leaders vision is not the same as the company vision because the company vision is aimed at guiding the entire workforce. For a small company, this may work. But in large companies, every leader needs to define a vision for each team, branch, division, department or project.
Naturally, the vision is based on the company vision. However, it's more specific for the project or smaller segment of the company you lead and train.
Personal Leadership Vision Example
As a young officer in the Navy, I would have to change my "job" every year to year and a half. Within the squadron, junior officers rotated job assignments to gain experience in the different aspects of leading a navy aviation squadron.
The squadron typically had a vision focused around combat readiness. This could be great, but it didn't get specific enough for me to run the 1st Lieutenant's division – the division responsible for cleaning the squadron spaces, training people for damage control and other specific needs.
Imagine trying to create a vision for people you lead whose job is mundane such as cleaning the floors, toilets, and other areas of where you work. Could you do it? Could you relate it to the company vision for the future?
I told the sailors doing these tasks for me that we were key to the squadron's vision of maximum combat readiness through highly effective, standard-setting processes and training. Our job was to ensure the squadron stayed clean and fully ready for any damage control effort to achieve this vision.
This ensured that during combat nothing failed on the ship that would reduce our ability to fly combat flight missions. The cleanliness kept everyone happy, and they would thank you for it.
The bottom line was, as their leader I was trying show value for their efforts. Value that went beyond having to do a typically thankless job every day.
Leadership Vision for Larger Teams, Divisions or Companies
While my example above is for a small part of the big picture, you should realize that whatever the size of your team you lead, you must have a vision to reach.
The CEO will have a much broader and bigger vision than the project leader. The General or Admiral will have a more far-reaching vision than the ship's division or branch officer.
Regardless of your level of leadership within your company or organization, leaders must have a vision. It must be bold and defining and create an importance for both what is achieved and the tasks performed.
Ultimately, the leadership vision you create will be both the inspiration for doing the tasks and the guide for what is achieved by those you lead.
Before you go, maybe you want to review some vision examples. You decide if they inspire or not.