Books & Reading Recommendations

A Vision Statement Is Only as Strong as the Leader Is

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by Shawn Lovejoy

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of vision statements. Vision statements are a dime a dozen as far as I’m concerned. Everyone these days has a vision statement. A few years ago, everyone had a “2020 Vision.” Soon it will be a “2050 Vision,” and so on. At the end of the day, however, a vision statement is just a statement. It has no life on its own. It cannot, nor will it ever, energize, unify, or align an organization. This task falls to the leader. A vision statement is only as strong as the leader is. Vision is only as clear as the leader is. Vision is only as compelling as a leader makes it. A vision is stewarded and sustained by a leader.

Over the years, much has been made about the differences between a mission and a vision. I actually use the terms interchangeably. When you get right down to it, working leaders don’t have time or energy to debate the difference between a mission and a vision. The best leaders devote their energy to inspiring people to unify around something—anything—that will move the organization in the direction they feel led to take it. As the leader of your organization who is interested in protecting the vision, I’d venture to say that these three questions are all you care about: Where are we going now? Where do we want to go? How do we take everyone there? These are the real, relevant, and crucial questions we must answer.

A vision or mission serves the same purpose: It defines why we exist. No matter what we call it, being mean about the vision requires that we answer one question at the outset: “Why are we here?” That’s really all we need to know in the beginning. Let’s not cloud the issue with any other discussions until we can answer that one. If we’re fortunate, we’ll be able to get our organizations rallied and unified around that one thing. The vision is our goal. The vision is our bull’s-eye. Let’s keep it simple. Being mean about the vision is about keeping our organization so focused on the goal that people are willing to sacrifice for it. If we get that right, everything else will fall in place.

Having a vision statement is just a small slice of the pie. It’s one thing to say we have a vision. It’s another thing to live it out. That’s where being mean about the vision comes in

My prayer for you as a leader is that God would give you a vision not only for your life but also for the organization you lead. My prayer is that God would also give you the clarity and the strength to be as mean as you need to be—until God does everything He wants to do in and through you and your organization.

As leaders the kindest, godliest, thing we can do is Be Mean About the VisionShawn’s new book Be Mean About the Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters. Order your copy today.

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