Leadership and Strategic Vision
The ability for leaders to focus on a clear and distinct strategic vision is one of the highest causal factors for excellent performance as measured by Key Performance Indicators such as higher sales, profits and employee engagement.
According to Forbes, employees who find their company’s vision to be meaningful have average engagement scores of 68%, while the average for those who don’t is down around 18% – a sizeable difference.
Here are some perspectives and tips on how to successfully communicate strategic vison to your team, department, or overall organization to impact business results.
Paint the Picture: Be very explicit about the future State
Communicating strategic vision is about being very precise and explicit terms what you want the future organization to become. It can be qualitative and quantitative, but it should be highly detailed and precise. This does not mean that the communicated future state is where we end up, but it does gives a clear idea of both where we want to be and what we want to become.
When discussing about the future state of an organization, a leader can also explain the vision of “how we get there”. This is looking at vision from another perspective. For example, the vision may paint a picture about future market share, highest quality scores, brand ratings, etc. The other way to communicate vision for the leader is what kind of characteristics of a high performance organization or team do we want to exhibit on a daily basis.
For example, one Team Leader states “we are a high performance team that meets in huddles daily, understands clearly both all of our team member and team goals which are aligned. We are highly flexible to support each other’s work and engage in continual learning. Giving and receiving feedback is expected and normal. We embrace change and seek new sources of innovation”. This is a “how”” vision based on behaviors. This perspective can be operationalized today immediately on the attitude and behavior change of its members.
The two perspectives on vision are not mutually exclusive and complement each other.
Communicate and Repeat
Strategic vision is not a one off but a consistent pattern of communication. The leader is obligated to show the future state from different dimensions and by using different media. Key is tying the vision to the values and behavior of the organization. In day to day business this means one on one talks (which are highly effective in communication), town halls, and dashboards using both leading and lagging indicators. It is also what is recognized by leaders as great work among employees and celebrated as an organization.
Communication also means embracing the emotional dimension as well as and seeking clarification from members through open questions ensuring they truly understand the vision.
Modelling the Behaviors
“Good leaders must communicate vision clearly, creatively, and continually. However, the vision doesn’t come alive until the leader models it. “-John C. Maxwell
The strongest form of communication to the organization is the day to day behavior of the leader(s) setting the vision. It is that day to day behavior which is tested against what the leader states on a continual basis. Followers are looking for the hypocrisy between words and actions. Self-awareness of the leader in this respect is critical.
Recent global data research conducted by Zenger Folkman shows that the ability to develop strategic vision as an excellent competency can propel leaders into the top 15% percentile of overall leadership effectiveness. This high effectiveness correlates very closely to leaders and their teams producing higher sales, profits, employee engagement and productivity. The data is clear on this. Communicating a strategic vision on a continual and compelling basis adds demonstrably to business success.
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About the Author
Peter Strupp is an Adviser and Facilitator to global companies seeking to improve people development methods that translate into demonstrable and measurable business results. His customers include Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Dentsply, Shell, TRW, Sony Pictures and many more. Peter is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Owner President Management (OPM) Program with a B.A. in History from The George Washington University.
For more information on how to implement a strategic vision with and goals achievement in your organization please contact Peter directly at firstname.lastname@example.org