How Clear Is Your Vision for 2019?

At this time of year, we often find ourselves preparing for change – personal and business – based on our vision for the year ahead.

Vision, Not New Year’s Resolutions!

So, when speaking about vision, I am not talking here about having stuff in your head! That lies in the territory of New Year’s resolutions! However, many know that New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Michael Hyatt has some excellent research commentary on New Year’s Resolutions that backs up that view. Not only do they not typically work, but they are also no guaranteed plan for lasting change.

Vision and Your Leadership of Change

What I write about here is the vision that is aligned with your leadership. It is still and has been a passionate focus of mine for many years.

That personal focus and practice were defined beautifully in the seminal book by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner, entitled Full Steam Ahead: Unleashing the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life.

They explored five reasons why vision is vital, and I wish to share why I agree wholeheartedly, using a recent assignment to describe why.

Five Reasons Vision is Vital!

  1. Vision is the starting point of leadership.

The starting point for my client was a desire to develop a sustainable base from which to grow, not just shrink to survive! Yes, adjustment needed to be made within the organisation, but not to the detriment of future potential. This perspective, fuzzy at first, was nurtured into a strong driving vision that underpinned the whole change process, including defining a new, more powerful overall vision for the organisation.

  1. Vision determines direction.

Leadership is about going somewhere. If you aren’t going somewhere, your leadership style doesn’t matter.

Once my client's vision became more explicit and concrete, other things were able to flow from it – a new strategic plan, a new annual operational plan, and a change plan for the transition, all with the vision clearly and strongly identified within them and shared thoroughly with the workforce.

  1. Vision is something to serve.

Without vision, the only thing left to serve is yourself. Visionless organisations will eventually be led by self-serving leaders.

The compelling vision gave staff something to focus on, to rally to and reinforce their value and contribution to the organisation, at a time of real turbulence in their lives. This maintained and, in many cases, enhanced their commitment to the organisation.

Their creative response to potential future scenarios was impressive, to say the least, and their energy to do so at a facilitated full-staff event made me feel very humble.

  1. Vision overcomes the power of criticism.

Without vision, squeaky wheels control organisations.

I particularly liked this part of the book, and I strongly visualised what Ken and Jesse meant by ‘squeaky wheels’! I have worked with these types of people for many years – the constant moaners, critics, nay-sayers – for whom any change is a thing to be attacked, subverted, or stopped. They too often win the day, or at best slow the whole change process.

The sharp vision galvanised my client organisation while providing ample opportunity for those less confident or committed saying their bit. ‘Squeaky wheels’ did not win the day!

  1. Vision creates unity.

Without vision, you can’t get on the same team.

My client’s vision brought a strongly unifying sense to the organisation. Sure there were still issues to resolve; some people did not achieve what they had hoped; and unfortunately, as happens when budgets drive any agenda, there were limited casualties.

Despite this, staff in the organisation demonstrated a greater sense of purpose, of drive, of direction . . . and a genuine sense of excitement at the prospects that the future held.

How do my thoughts resonate with your vision and change leadership?

In their book, Ken and Jesse say, “Less than 10% of the organisations we visited are led by managers who have a clear sense of where they are trying to lead people.”

Comparing their ideas to my case study, I hope you might agree with us that vision is vital!