You can work awfully hard to get someplace you don’t want to be, if you don’t know where you’re going before you start. As a leader you also take an organisation full of people on that detour with you. Doesn’t it make sense to know where you’re going and why? As a leader, your business vision becomes the context from which everything else derives meaning. 

What is a business vision?

A business vision is an aspirational statement, said in the present tense where people could be doing something right now that affects the future. It defines both purpose and direction. According to research there are commonly shared attributes to inspiring vision statements (Kantabutra, S., 2008). Vision statements should be:

Brief A vision statement should be brief, but brevity should not overrule the endeavour to state the vision definitely.
Clear A vision statement should be clear and precise in such a way that it is understood and accepted. Clarity makes the overarching goals understandable to everyone.
Future Orientated A vision statement should focus on the long-term perspective of the organisation and the environment in which it functions. It should guide the organisation far into the future.
Stable A vision statement should be general and abstract enough that it is not affected by most of the changes in the market or in technology.
Challenging A vision statement should motivate people to work toward a desirable outcome. Visions challenge people to do their best.
Abstract A vision statement should represent a general idea as opposed to a specific achievement. It is not a narrow, one-time goal that can be met and discarded.
Desirable/ Inspiring A vision statement should represent an ideal that is worth working toward for the followers. If followers do not perceive the vision as an attractive goal, they will never commit to achieving it.

Kantabutra, Sooksan. (2008). What Do We Know About Vision?. Journal of Applied Business Research. 24. 127-138. 10.19030/jabr.v24i2.1359.

Getting to a business vision statement that hits the mark takes work, it doesn’t always happen the first time. It’s a vulnerable process, which is scary. At Integrity and Values our vision has been through several incarnations in order to resonate with our leadership and staff. Our first attempt was “To transform 20,000 leaders by 2020”, sounds great right? Did it work? NO! It was a glorified goal not a vision. Next, we tried “Empowering Leaders to Change the Game”, it ticked the abstract box a little too well and lacked direction. It took working out why the previous statements didn’t fit and looking closely at the end result of the work we do come to: 

“Empowering leaders to build responsible teams that produce extraordinary results”

Having a powerful clearly articulated business vision makes setting values, creating strategy, even choosing staff simpler.  When you know where you’re going, making sure everyone is facing the same way is easy and correcting when off course happens sooner and with far less angst, because everyone knows what you’re aiming at. Decision making is streamlined because ideas that don’t align with your vision are quickly discarded. It takes courage as a leader to create a business vision that is worthy of your life and to ask others to come on the journey with you.

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