Vision Statement Challenges

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible.”

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Almost every day, I am either talking about or mentally reconsidering the effectiveness of current vision statements or why there is a lack of statements. Typical discussion and/or thinking involves the use, misuse, and impact of mission and vision statements. 

Many times I have conversations with many of my colleagues and create very informative information. 

Here is a typical discussion with a couple of colleagues.

DENIS: I reviewed our current activity and realized we don’t have a written vision statement, so how do we know what we want or need to accomplish?

My bias is that we must create a vision statement to drive our plans and create a program. I see this as a critical piece in organizational success. 

More to the point, if a company does not have a written vision, then leadership needs to embed them deeply into the head and heart of the workforce. And, if they are not authentic and driven statements, then it’s pointless anyway.

BOB: I would agree with many of your points. The fact that it is what the company “does” with its statements is what is essential. In most cases, these statements have been neglected. 

JOHN: I agree that companies can spend too much time on massaging vision statements.

But I also think many organizations spend too little time on them as well. There must be a balance. When properly created, formed, communicated, and used, these statements provide a great deal of agenda harmony, synergy into the organization, clarity of priority in budgeting, effectiveness inaccurate staffing, and many other things.

Most importantly, it removes the fuzziness in the people’s minds and where the company is directed. If a statement is made well, the statement will identify gaps, relational deficiencies and will create energy, commitment, optimism and makes strategic planning more robust.

Of course, these statements can’t do anything; it’s all in the way they are integrated into the organizational system. The truth be told, though, most organizations already operate from a vision, but it’s usually informal and imprecise and carried out by a few influential leaders in the company.

A couple of questions to ask when interviewing for a job or if you are new to a company is;

  • If your company was at its very best, what would this look like? 
  • Where would people spend their time and resources to meet expectations?

These don’t directly address the vision. Because, If you ask, “what is your vision?” most people will recite what they read or may look confused. When asked subject-oriented questions, however, a picture emerges.

DENIS: Excellent points, everyone. I am a big fan of vision statements, IF they are fully communicated to the entire organization and the leadership is committed to fulfilling the stated vision. I agree with everything said.

  • vision statements help visualize the desired future
  • create a metric process for attaining identified goals
  • get buy-in and commitment from the workers and leaders

However, I have seen them generate little use in most areas, despite pleas and pushing from the leaders. 

Without a mission statement, you may get to the top of the ladder and then realize it was leaning against the wrong building.”

DAVE RAMSEY

To ensure we are moving in the right direction, we should have two types of statements.

  1. Vision statements are related to a specific project or position (think building program, launching a new safety campaign, or introducing new items to sale). They are needed, but they should be more flexible, temporal, and more quickly created.
  2. Mission statements are different. They deal with unchangeable values. 

Have one mission statement that defines your values and desires outcomes. Then, create multiple vision statements as time and projects dictate.

3 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES YOU MUST GET RIGHT

Like some of you, leadership has been a continual growth process for me. It seems that there are some who “get it” from the get-go. However, for me, it’s been a journey. I’ve struggled with resistance from individuals. As a safety professional, the most difficult thing to change in a program is the belief that “we’ve always done it this way,” or “we didn’t budget for that.” In the safety profession, influence is the key to success. The safety profession serves an essential purpose in the work field, but it does not produce a product or generate cash flow.

Consequently, we must be able to influence others to make the right decisions for the right reasons. Success in the safety field is determined through the reduction or elimination of injuries. Ultimately, the worker and their families benefit from our efforts. Over the past several years, three principles have emerged that have helped renew my energy and commitment to influencing those who make the decisions. These principles aren’t new, but I have become more intentional in my implementation. I am deliberate in focusing on each of these principles, and because of such, I have seen significant results.

“Principle-centered people are constantly educated by their experiences.”  – Steven Covey

I want to share these 3 principles with you. I believe that EACH leader should acquaint themselves with these truths to obtain powerful influence.

RIGHT PEOPLE
The first question to ask is “Am I influencing the right people?” Different people need to be influenced by various reasons and circumstances. For instance, does a production employee need to be influenced to purchase a new piece of equipment? No. The focus needs to be on finance and production leadership. However, the production employee does need to be influenced by the need to make appropriate behavior choices. If we are not influencing the right people for our current demand, then our time and effort become lost. The second question is “Do you have the right people on your team?” For leaders, the motto has been that people are your greatest asset, but that saying needs some fine-tuning. It’s not just people; it’s the right people. When you’re bringing someone aboard your leadership team, put forth ample time into the resume/interview process. Develop engaging interview questions and include other team members to ensure the person can become an effective team collaborator and has the right skillset to “fill in the holes.” A leader is only as good as his/her inner circle. These are the people that make the vision a reality. Sometimes organizations put excessive emphasis on the senior leader, when in fact it’s more than just one man.

Moreover, it’s not just whom we bring on, but also whom we hang onto. It’s hard to let an employee go or to tell a team leader that their season has come to an end. Ultimately, do what is best for the team and the overall organization.

Consider whom you are currently trying to influence, are they the right person for your needs? Do you have the right people on board and in the right positions? Focus on influencing the right people and ensure your inner circle consists of qualified, committed individuals and success will be achieved.

WELL-DEFINED MISSION
Second, it is vital to have a well-defined mission. A clear mission keeps us on track to complete critical tasks. You and your team must define a mission that supports your vision. Evaluate all the things you’re doing and make the difficult decision to cut out (even good things) that don’t fit within that defined mission. This pruning process will help you avoid “mission drift” and make your leadership more effective.

UNWAVERING FAITHFULNESS
So finally, when you have the right people and a well-defined mission, go after it with all your heart. Those who are passionate about what they want will be successful. Passion drives us through difficult times. In our ready-made culture, we want immediate results. The reality is that any constant endeavor, a marriage, business, or ministry takes time to build. I remind people that they’re embarking on an adventure that requires an investment of faithfulness. Be committed to putting the time and effort in; day by day, person-by-person, project by project.

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.