How Well Are You Communicating Your Vision?
Vision communication can be thought of as expressing an ideal that represents or reflects the organization’s collectively shared values. Numerous studies have shown that leaders who enthusiastically promote and communicate their vision tend to create positive effects on employee performance, attitudes and perceptions.
Specific core components need to be incorporated to effectively communicate one’s vision. These are:
- Displaying a charismatic, forceful, animated and confident communication style;
- Taking action to support the implementation of the vision, such as by serving as an exemplary role model;
- Intellectually stimulating employees and building their confidence while continuously promoting the vision.
A well thought-out vision concisely but openly expresses a leader’s values and energy. In this way, vision content is communicated through imagery that generates a vivid mental picture of possibilities in relationship to existing realities.
When communicating their vision, leaders should focus on detailing its strategic emphasis and response to necessary changes. This includes outlining expectations as to the vision’s degree of control over those changes and its relationship to employees’ self-interests, as well as combining specific needs and values into a unified and collaborative effort.
Describing the Vision in Terms of Mission, Values and Goals
Communicating a vision effectively needs to incorporate components of the leader’s organizational mission, strategy, values and goals. Leaders need to communicate the vision in such a way as to integrate all these elements and place them into a visual framework that works to guide future action. Communicating a vision needs to motivate the setting of specific task-related goals, which in turn affect and alter performance.
It is essential to maintain clarity when communicating visional direction, with goals specifically detailed and explained. As part of this communication process, statements should include imagery that is specifically related to:
- Achievement and improvement
- Future time perspectives
- Assumptions of personal responsibility
- Initiatives and their acceptance
- Anticipating future possibilities
Goals should be described in desirable terms that reflect ways to address challenges or the future orientation of the organization. For example, results-focused company goals may become the equivalent of task-specific targets such as “doubling production output within the next two years.”
The Importance of Modeling the Vision
While effective communication of a vision has a direct and obvious effect on performance, it is more likely to generate indirect impacts on motivation, acceptance, and perseverance in overcoming challenges and hindrances. Indirect positive results are realized when employees know the purpose behind the vision’s structure and understand its content, attributes and interrelationships from their own personal perspective.
As simply communicating a well-formulated vision is not enough to guarantee results, leaders within the organization must “walk the talk.” As part of the communication process, leaders need to reinforce the vision’s inherent values through consistent and animated positive role modeling as well as in the way they select and work with employees, acknowledge small changes and reward successes.
Vision Needs Visibility
Leaders often tend to articulate a vision taken straight from their organization’s strategic plan or their own personal planning process. When doing this, they begin to rewrite a modified or restructured vision and mission statement, or sometimes even find themselves devising and establishing an altogether new set of organizational values. Most times these efforts only muddy the visional communication process and leave employees confused. This in turn results in hindering the goals they desire to pursue, and effective ways to achieve them.
Communication of a vision does not rely on the underlying rationale as much as it does on making exciting possibilities “visible” within the organization. Leaders can accomplish this by openly communicating and stressing the following:
- Inspiring with a sense of passion;
- Employee well-being as a direct benefit of the vision;
- Vision as an adaptive tool for organizational and group survival;
- The necessity of building and maintaining work effectiveness;
- Courage and a willingness to take a stand;
- The rewards of ambition and perseverance;
- Integrity, ethics and values;
- Generating self-esteem and emotional stability;
- Developing patience, endurance and tolerance for ambiguity;
- Quality decision making;
- The importance of stimulating creative thinking and innovation;
- The intention to utilize all employees’ functional, technical and organizational skills in pursuit of the vision;
- Priority setting as a necessary tool to accomplish assignments, projects and tasks in a timely and effective manner.
To align and communicate vision-related responsibilities, leaders utilize terms related to organizational values and mission, exciting challenges, unified efforts, and work-related incentives to help get the attention of employees. Doing this makes the vision concrete and tangible, and sets in motion key elements for reaching the necessary goals that steadily lead to its attainment.
Excerpt: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Vision: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $16.95 USD
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
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