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Become a Better Leader: Create a Vision and Share It

December 22, 2014

Some of the most overused and misunderstood words in the business planning world are mission, vision and values. However, each is interrelated and equally important in providing momentum and inspiration to a business and its employees.

This is part three in a six-part series on how to become a better leader. Read part two.

Some of the most overused and misunderstood words in the business planning world are mission, vision and values. However, each is interrelated and equally important in providing momentum and inspiration to a business and its employees.

To know their significance and how each supports the other, let’s take a quick look at each.

The first leg is your mission: what you want to achieve in operating your business.

This must be re-examined and refreshed from time to time if you want your organization to remain dynamic. The mission is normally summed up in a mission statement that can be used both internally and externally to define your business.

Mission statements describe the overall purpose of an organization. They say what you do, who you do it for and how and why you do it. They set boundaries on your organization’s current activities. And, reviewing the mission gets an organization back to basics. The essential activity of determining who you serve can be a wake-up call, too.

The second leg of this planning triangle concerns your values.

Values are clear in everything you do and how you operate. Articulating values provides everyone with guiding lights, ways of choosing among competing priorities and guidelines about how people will work together.

Similar to a mission statement, a value statement reflects the core ideology of your company. Unlike the mission statement, this statement does not change over time. Your statement will answer how you will carry out your mission.

A good example of a value statement comes from Microsoft. Microsoft states that integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continual self-improvement and mutual respect are fundamental to its business.

While it may seem that these beliefs are natural or second-nature, having them officially created for all to understand ensures that all employees know what kind of culture everyone is building within your organization.

Finally, the third leg is your vision.

This element in your planning integrates your values, keeps you moving forward and inspires you and everyone in your business to do meaningful things to fulfill the mission. A vision allows your employees and your customers to know what you aspire to be.

The vision statement describes an ideal future. It answers the question – what impact do we want to make? The vision of a business conveys a larger sense of organizational purpose so that employees see themselves building a product or providing a service that makes a difference. In uncertain times, a vision statement can also provide clarity.

To create your vision statement, ask yourself on behalf of your business – where do you want to go?

When you sit down to write it, let your imagination go. Don’t make the mistake of limiting yourself to a year or two ahead. Where do you want to be in a decade or beyond? Capture your passion.

There are several questions to get your gears moving before drafting the vision statement:

  • Why did I start this business?
  • Should I leave this company, what do I want to leave behind?
  • What do I really provide for my customers beyond products and services?
  • And, if my business could be everything I dreamed, what would it be?

A leader will ensure that everyone in your organization understands the vision and how they may support it for years to come.

Next: Learn why you need to empower others

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