Do you know how important an effective vision statement is? My answer to that question, very important and I would like to explain why. As a leader it is imperative to not lose sight of the bigger picture. It is even more important that the leader have the ability to communicate this quickly and easily to others. Many leaders and organizations use vision statements to accomplish this. I have provided four reasons from the leadership literature that explain why leaders should value having a successful vision. Lastly, I drew upon Yukl’s (2006) research to highlight some of the key elements in an effective vision statement.
Four reasons to value vision:
1. This statement answers the organizational question of why? The purpose of the vision statement is to not only tell what the organization does, but why it is worth while and exciting to do it (Yukl, 2006).
2. A vision statement is useful when the leader/organization desires to guide change and it also provides a frame work to guide decision making (Yukl, 2006).
3. A vision statement is useful when the leader/organization desires to change the culture of the organization (Trice & Beyer, 1993).
4. An effective vision statement is one source of perceived charisma; when the leader uses a vision statement as a mental image evoked to portray the idealized future of the organization (Conger, 1989). The research indicates that an idealized vision is generally considered to be a pre-requisite for a leader to become transformational or charismatic (e.g., Bass, 1990; Conger, 1999; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; Tichy & Devanna, 1986).
Elements of an effective vision statement:
1. A vision should be a simple and attainable representation of the future.
2. The vision should appeal to the values, hopes, and ideals of the organizational members whose support is needed.
3. A vision should be focused enough to guide decisions and actions, but general enough to allow initiatives and creativity in the strategies attaining it.
4. A successful vision should be simple enough to be communicated clearly in five minutes or less.
Bass, B. M. (1990). Handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research. New York: Free Press.
Conger, J. A. (1989). The charismatic leader: Behind the mystique of exceptional leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Conger, J. A. (1999). Charismatic and transformational leadership in organizations: An insider’s perspective on these developing streams of research. The Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 145-179.
Conger, J. A. & Kanungo, R. (1987). Toward a behavioral theory of charismatic leadership in organizational settings. Academy of Management Review, 12, 637-647.
Tichy, N. M. & Devanna, M. A. (1986). The transformational leader. New York: John Wiley.
Trice, H. M. & Beyer, J. M. (1993). The cultures of work organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations, 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.