Leadership Explored: What Vision Really Means in a Successful Company (Part 1 of 3)

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Conversations about leadership often circle back to certain buzzwords such as “vision,” “traction,” and “healthy.” But just because these words have become cliched doesn’t mean they lack value. In this three-part series, we’re going to explore each of these phrases related to leadership and pick apart what they really mean and how they contribute to a successful business. We’ll start with unpacking the word, “vision.”

What Does “Vision” Mean?

We understand the literal meaning of vision as the way in which we see the world around us. Our eyes take in light and our brains interpret the information in the form of an image. Someone with 20/20 vision is said to see the world clearly, as it is. But “vision” means something else when used in terms of business development.

In the business world, the word vision is used figuratively. Rather than physical perception, it refers to one’s perception of possibilities. A leader with vision is one with aspirations, who can see a future where the business has grown, become more influential, and achieve specific goals. Just as our eyes can be near-sighted or far-sighted, a leader’s vision can be short-term, long-term, or anywhere in between.

Companies utilizing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)© define “vision” more specifically, by determining their core values, purpose, niche, their marketing strategy, their 7-10 year target, and their plan for the next 3 years.

Vision in Action: Examples

To better understand “vision” in this context, it helps to examine how it plays out in real life. Many leaders create a vision statement to make their aspirations visible for the whole company. They might write it down in pen or type it, laminate it, and frame it in the office for all to see regularly. So, what might a vision statement dictate?

Every company will come up with different vision statements based on their type of business, size, and goals. A brand new small business with a single storefront might have the vision statement of, “In one year we will have two more locations in ______.” The vision statement of a large, successful business might be to become the world’s leading stapler manufacturer. Timeframes can be helpful but aren’t necessary for a vision statement.

A company’s vision statement should be unique and specific to its goals in a given time period. Mission statements, on the other hand, are typically more general, ongoing, closely tied to company culture and values, and meant for public consumption as well. While vision statements can be made public, they’re typically kept within the company as a motivational tool that keeps the current goal ever present.

How a Clear Vision Relates to Success

We now have a clear definition of “vision” and have seen some examples of a vision statement. But how effective are these affirmations, and can they be implemented as a practical business growth strategy?

It’s true that not every vision comes to fruition. Still, having a vision that is present and known serves an important function. Namely, it keeps the company on the same page. Teams that share a vision, or at least recognize the same vision, do a better job of pooling their resources and finding solutions. With a clear goal in mind, every member has something to strive for and everyone is moving in the same direction. A vision statement probably won’t lay out a specific path for getting there, but it’s an important foundation for beginning to carve a track towards that goal.

Successful companies can’t simply focus on numbers, data, and sales growth formulas. Forming a vision and making it known is an important step in growing a business. Leadership Resources can help business leaders craft their own vision statements and keep their team on track. We provide worksheets, reading material, seminars, and more to help leaders hone their leadership skills. Contact us here to learn more.

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