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The Power of a Vision ... A Leader's Journey
By Barbara Mintzer   Printer Friendly Version

Employees today have very definite ideas of what they want and expect from a job and the organization they work for. A few generations ago, "a good day's wage for a good day's work" was sufficient to keep many people on the job for a long time. If you threw in benefits, too, most people would stay FOREVER.

That is not the case today. Employees today come into an organization with the mindset of "you should be grateful to have me here, and this is what I want." They have a sense of entitlement not seen in employees before, and business leaders are dealing with the challenge of motivating these very independent, free-thinking people to buy into the corporate vision.

Being a leader in business today requires the ability to implement two styles of leadership that are new to many business environments. These two styles, used during different stages of organizational change, are the visionary and the coach. This article will focus on the visionary.

The visionary has the challenge of formulating and articulating a corporate vision that employees can buy into and work towards. What drives this is the conviction, passion and enthusiasm the leader has in both the formulation and articulation of this vision. When change is rampant in an organization, and people feel their sense of control and security being taken away, why should they stay? What is in it for them in the long run? That is where the visionary comes in. The visionary can aim big and bring everyone along for the journey, making each person responsible for his or her part in seeing that the vision becomes a reality.

Why is it so important for leaders and employees alike to have a vision?

- Having a vision helps us structure our lives according to our priorities.

We all have such full plates today that it is difficult to know what to do first. However, when we have a vision of what we want to achieve, we start to gravitate to those activities and projects that will lead us closer to our vision. The vision we hold becomes the compass that keeps us on track.

- Having a vision gives us a common bond and purpose to strive for.

One of the most important facets of a vision is the power it has to unify people to strive towards a common goal. When a corporate vision becomes more important than an individual's personal agenda, we rise above the "turf" issues and power struggles that can happen at work. Especially during times of organizational change, it is crucial that everyone has a "shared vision" of what the organization seeks to accomplish, and what his or her part is in it.

- Having a vision gives purpose and meaning to life.

A vision is the structure that gives life its meaning and purpose. It gives us the reason to stretch ourselves, get out of our comfort zones and try something new a reason not only to embrace change but to initiate it. A vision allows us a view of what we can aspire to if we are willing to do the work to make it happen.

Your first responsibility as a visionary, then, is to formulate a vision your employees would WANT to follow based on your values and beliefs about your organization now and what you desire for it in the future. You may choose a Vision Statement similar to the following:


We are the provider of choice for our products and services. Customer service is our highest priority, and we are responsive, effective and innovative in meeting and exceeding our customers' expectations. Our team is knowledgeable, flexible, and accountable for our performance. We value those we serve and treat our customers and each other with respect and courtesy. We build relationships based on trust.

This is a simple vision statement that everyone can understand and buy into. You can change it to reflect your organization and the values that are most important to you. The following is a very specific, very powerful strategy to use to give your employees buy-in and make them accountable for your vision. However, this strategy will work only if it is followed exactly as presented in this article.

15-minute vision meeting:

Let's say hypothetically every Friday morning you and your staff meet from 9:00 till 9:15. Every Friday you meet at the same time, in the same room, everyone takes the same seat, and you always ask the same two questions of your staff:

1. What did you do that brought us closer to our vision?

2. What obstacles did you encounter that prevented you from getting us closer to our vision?

That is it! Those two questions never change; they are the same two questions asked week after week, always on the same day (Friday) same time (9:00 to 9:15) in the same room with everyone sitting in the same seat. The power of this strategy lies in the fact that nothing changes. It takes about three months for your employees to build a "vision mentality," but after three months that Friday meeting is imbedded in their routine. So now it is Wednesday, and one of your employees is thinking "Oh boy, it's Wednesday ... in two days I'm going to be asked those same two questions again, I had better come up with something to bring us closer to the vision." You will be amazed at what that employee will give you. Some of the most innovative ideas and creative solutions to problems will come from the people you least expected!

Give your employees accountability and encourage their willingness to give you ideas to support your vision, and you will have employees that will be committed to your vision and your organization. These very same people can help you move your organization through today's changes into tomorrow's opportunities.

Copyright 2000 Barbara Mintzer All Rights Reserved

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