Throughout my career I’ve observed managers and leaders alike. It really doesn’t matter if you’re in a managerial position or not – leaders are not defined by their title, but by their actions. Regardless of being in a managerial position or not, there’s one thing I consistently find in common among leaders. All are able to articulate a simple, compelling view of a possible or hoped-for future outcome – a Vision. Visionary leaders are also able to influence and shape current courses of action so that, eventually, that vision becomes a reality.

My observations and professional experience tell me that the ability to develop and effectively communicate a vision is a fundamental (if somewhat overlooked) leadership skill. A vision statement is a powerful way to galvanize and motivate people around an idea. It provides a beacon and a direction against which we can measure our own ideas, our actions and even our values.

We can develop vision statements to meet any number of different purposes. From an overarching vision for a nation, an industry or an organization to a more specific vision that will provide direction to a department, a team, a product or a project. Even our own careers can benefit from a vision that can help us identify a career path and determine what our next course of action should be.

Authors James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras studied a number of companies whose enduring success have led those organizations to outperform the stock market by a factor of 12 since 1925. In  “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”, Collins and Porras conclude that all these organizations have a core set of values that remain unchanged even when faced with drastic changes to business strategies or market conditions. Although the authors state that the book “is not […] about charismatic visionary leaders”, most (if not all) of the companies seem to have had their core values imbued into the company’s Vision by one such visionary (if not also charismatic) leader.

Looking into the future and imagining what you or your organization might become is an extraordinary exercise. Just make sure to aim high and far. Be bold. Be grand. I think that true visions should not be modest in any way, shape or form.


“Shoot for the moon. Even if you fail, you’ll still land among the stars.”

– Les Brown


Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Author(s): Jim Collins, Jerry Porras

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