Company vision statements – a task for many senior leaders we work with.
Are you setting a vision for your team as we start a new year? Or perhaps your organisation is having an overhaul and an updated ‘new’ vision is at the top of the agenda? Both scenarios are common in January as we all prepare for the year ahead.
The truth is it doesn’t matter when we set a vision, as long as we do. The added benefit is that a vision can be cascaded down through the organisation and provide inspiration for employees at all levels.
The truth is you can’t lead effectively without a vision.
It’s common for many employees to get confused by the difference between vision and mission, so let’s start with the definition of a company vision.
There are slight variations online, but fundamentally, a vision communicates what an organisation wants to create in the future – hopefully different from the present!
A vision is normally crafted by the senior leadership team to take everyday thinking to a higher level. Isn’t that what a mission does too? Not quite!
Here is an example to illustrate the point from the world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart-Stores, Inc.
The Walmart vision statement is, “To be the best retailer in the hearts and minds of consumers and employees”.
The mission statement is on a similar theme, “Saving people money so they can live better”.
The vision communicates the “where are we going?” and “what will success look like in the future?”
The mission on the other hand is different; it’s more about what you do on a daily basis.
The Flexibility Of A Vision
The great thing about having a vision at different levels of an organisation is that it gives individuals both an understanding of the task in hand and a focus.
Fundamentally, you are providing an image to your team of the future that you want to create.
Types of Vision
As a rule, you will find that most vision statements in today’s economy fit into one of two styles. They are:
This is a common style of statement and is where Walmart’s vision sits. Here it’s about being the best; being number one.
This type of vision normally has a revenue number or a few ‘things’ in the statement. For instance, Dolly Parton, the well-known country singer songwriter is a huge philanthropist and has created her Imagination Library scheme across the world. The vision here is founded on developing child literacy in that every child from birth to age 5 has access to books.
An Easy Vision
If you are wondering if your vision statement is fit for purpose or want to craft your own team vision to accelerate the focus and performance of your team, here some points to consider:
- Into The Future 5+ Years
We have already highlighted the fact that a vision should be just that – a view of the future; something to strive towards that keeps everyone on the path.
Consequently, a vision should fall into the 5+ years’ bracket. For instance, Walmart set their vision some time ago to be the best retailer, which is something they are well on the way to achieving, depending on the criteria you chose.
- Directional, Future Tense And Big
I’d say, “To be the best retailer in the hearts and minds of consumers and employees” is future tense, directional and big, wouldn’t you?
Or how about Microsoft? “A computer on every desk and in every home; all running Microsoft software”.
Finally, a vision statement is often described as a guiding light for the journey ahead.
Top Tip: The more descriptive you can make a vision, the easier it is to understand and the more your team will buy into what you want to achieve at an emotional level.
As a leader of people you want to ensure they give ‘their best’. Yes, people are paid to do a job and yet the truth is if it’s ‘only a job’ to them, then you will never see their best work. That is why getting emotional buy-in and involvement through a compelling vision is important at every level.
The good news is, getting employees emotionally involved is easier than you think!
Get them to care about what they are doing is possible by showing them the relevance of the vision and how it impacts people’s lives.
It’s about what they do every day and how this contributes towards the company’s vision being realised. Taking that into account, it’s no wonder Microsoft dominates our online world and how the Imagination Library scheme went global in a few short years.
Excel Communications has over a 30-year history as a global leadership and communication skills organisation dedicated to exceeding the expectations of clients through the training and development of their business and its people. Can we help? Get in touch here.