After you read the vision statements below, I’ll ask how they impacted you, and share their impact on several hundred participants in leadership development programs:

      “If there are poor on the moon, we will go there, too.”

       -Mother Teresa

     “Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary results; never

       stop believing that.”

        -Helen Keller

     “The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should

       have equal rights upon it.”

        -Chief Joseph, Nez Perce Leader

     “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a 

       nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
       but by the content of their character.”

       -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

     “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do

       for your country.”

        -President John F. Kennedy

     “We should acknowledge differences, we should greet differences

       until difference makes no difference anymore.”

       -Dr. Adela Artola Allen, Educator

What emotional impact did these have on you? How would you likely feel about working for a manager, boss, or leader who talks this way, assuming they were sincere?

 

Here are the words aspiring leaders used to describe these statements:
Inspiring
Visionary
Committed
Brave
Passionate
Believer
Faith in something & someone
Knew they could not do it alone
Determined
Hopeful
Empowering

Motivating
 

Also, their 3 most common responses in regard to taking action:
Makes you want to be there.
Makes you want to do your job right.

Makes you want to be amazing.

Notice how their action responses pertain to motivation: like many others, I suggest we really don’t motivate other people. Instead, other people motivate themselves.

Aren’t these the kind of results you want from employees based on how their leaders work with them?

Admittedly, these are “high flying” statements by people who were gifted in many ways. I’m not suggesting that aspiring or existing leaders create grandiose and over-inflated statements that leave people shaking their heads.

However, if such statements can help develop positive, motivating, responses like the ones above, shouldn’t we help leaders on all levels develop and speak them?

 

Three questions were devised by my groups as being the most helpful in developing their own effective leadership visions; here they are, followed by some of their answers:

1) “What kind of a leader do I want to be?”
   A vision that’s personal and meaningful to the individual.

        “I want to help my people accomplish results they didn’t think were possible.”

        “I want to be the kind of leader who attracts people who want to work with me.”

        “I want my employees to sense that I care about them deeply.”

These are: 

  • Easy to understand
  • Concise
  • Have an inspirational tone
  • Are meaningful to the person making them
  • Are appropriate for their role in the organization
2) “What I want to accomplish with my people.”
           Vision statements that describe goals or expectations for the
           leader’s group, team, or department:
         “I want us to be a group who works with our consumers (nursing

           home residents) with compassion, dignity, and genuine concern.”

         “I’d like us to be known for being friendly and working cooperatively

           with other departments.”

         “I want us to feel no challenge is too big for us if we throw ourselves

           into it.”

These are: 

  • Specific; state a clear goal
  • Results and outcome-oriented
  • Ambitious: a stretch to accomplish
3) “How I want us to work together.”
         Now that the leader has a personal vision and what they want to

         accomplish, this one’s about working together:

          “I want us to be able to go to another person with a concern we

           have instead of griping about them behind their back.”
 
         “I’d like us to be known as a group that looks for the good things
           each of us does, and compliments each other.”
 
         “I’d like us to help each other out when we see a need.”
 
These are: 
  • Inclusive; apply to everyone
  • Provide expectations
  • Good human relations
For years, we’ve heard how important it is for leaders to develop and communicate a “leadership vision” to direct and inspire employees. Thousands of organizations send tens of thousands of managers and leaders to training programs that emphasize the importance of having these, but how many of leaders actually have them?

Two reasons they don’t: they often aren’t shown a simple and effective process (like this one), to create a vision, and much of the time “creating visions” is something that’s left up to top management. 

Why not have supervisors, managers, and other leaders develop and communicate these as expectations and worthy challenges for themselves and the people they lead as long as they support top management’s vision and objectives?
 
Selecting and compiling 2 or 3 statements from each of these 3 areas creates an impactful vision. Repeating them from time-to-time is essential so that people understand them as a vision and as expectations.
 
Effective leaders on all levels help create more of the workplace results they want by developing and communicating compelling visions.

 

It’s what happens in more productive workplaces.

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