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The rational leader between vision and mission
Leadership Development

The rational leader between vision and mission

HR blogs
Giuseppe Ando
July 26, 2021
Human Resource Management Platform
The rational leader between vision and mission | peopleHum

A C-Officer or executive has a duty to interpret and represent their company's vision and mission. For these hierarchical levels, vision and mission must be guarded and protected and not just considered an ornamental tinsel for brochures and posters to hang on the wall.

It is not uncommon to find phrases ( statements ) that describe the vision and that, in reality, are part of a company's mission and vice versa. But what is the difference between vision and mission ?

The vision answers these questions:

  • How do we imagine the company in the future?
  • What do we hope or dream of achieving with our business?
  • What problem will we have solved in the future that is of general interest?
  • Who or what inspires us to work to bring about change?

The  mission answers the following questions:

  • Why does our company exist?
  • What do we do?
  • Who are our customers/target audience?
  • And how do we serve these customers?

The mission is the expression of the present, of what we want to be and achieve immediately. The vision is a statement of what we want to become in the future. The  vision  is the guiding principle of the strategy. It is the description of where our efforts and our work tend and will tend. The strategy is designed around the  vision, and in moments of loss or disorientation the light that illuminates and directs the company's decisions remains.

But who decides the  corporate vision? In family businesses there is a tendency to maintain the  vision which inspired the "founding father" and it is considered a betrayal to modify it. In managerial companies it is normally the expression of the top management who decided it in some prestigious meeting room of the  headquarters . In short, the vision  is often the result of a top-down dynamic.

Because? For the usual misunderstanding between  mission and vision , which overlaps the two concepts, focusing them on the top management. In fact, if it is natural for the entrepreneur, the reference shareholder or the  board  to decide what the  mission is  (what to produce and / or sell and to whom), the vision must be the broadest possible expression of all those who feel an active part in the growth of the company. It is completely illogical not to involve all levels of the company in building the company's future image. It means relegating them to the pure accomplishment of their routine work, in accordance with the provisions of the  mission. It excludes them from the strategic moment which is the most strongly loyal and productive.

A rational leader does not make this mistake and ensures the maximum motivation of his collaborators.

But, in practice, how can the largest possible number of people be involved in building the corporate vision? Through working groups, which develop their long-term vision of the company. Through successive syntheses, the final version of the vision will be elaborated   in which everyone will recognize themselves and for the realization of which they will work. It will be the transversal expression of a shared project on which to discuss at all levels in moments of reflection. Through the feedback mechanism, the different teams that have participated in the definition of the  vision will learn to deal with the perspective of colleagues who work in other sectors of the company.

As the process evolves, the groups will become smaller and smaller, but managers and executives will continue to represent the instances of those who contributed early on.

In addition, the contribution of many people is also desirable in light of the very articulation of the  vision. I, frankly, do not believe in the idea that  vision  can be summed up in a single sentence or, worse, in a slogan. I find that the synthetic wording is appropriate for the  mission , where it is necessary to memorize in a few words what you do. But for the  vision  the situation is different. The vision it is a set of ideas that represent, through a conceptual image, the future. It is a question of relating to the environment in which one operates and its dynamism. Within the vision there are aspirations, projects, expectations, forecasts, it is the temporal elongation of the imagination. To restrict everything to a summary seems to me penalizing.

Moreover, to enhance all the contributions, the synthesis cannot be extreme. The  vision  is not a mere rhetorical exercise of elegant intellectual speculation. From vision depends, on average, 10 years to follow the company, with all that this entails in terms of investments, divestments, organization and learning. Furthermore, the  vision , contrary to the  mission, it is dynamic. It changes over time, in relation to changes in the scenario and in the market. Therefore, articulating it in the best way is not an option, but a necessity. A  rational leader  knows that  vision , as a process and not a final result, requires a continuous contribution from collaborators. This is why it remains open and available for listening.

With this approach, the organization will be a body that is always focused on learning and constantly growing. The creative dimension of the  vision  requires both intuition and rationality, depending on the information available. For this reason, broadening the basis of reflection can only bring benefits. A vision well conceived, it is convincing for investors, customers, lenders, suppliers and all  stakeholders  in general. All that has been said so far makes no sense if it is not accompanied by a meticulous and punctual communication policy. Both internally and externally, it must be clear where the company is heading. At all meetings, at all levels, leaders must constantly remind their teams what the organization's vision is.

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October 25, 2021

A very inspiring list. Thanks for putting this together


October 25, 2021

This is such a great list of women leaders! More power to you all

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