Some people swear by vision and mission statements and others hate them. Many companies have done quite well without them.

One aspect of the vision statement that is often overlooked is its power to motivate your employees. I see far too many employees who are just doing their job. They may have a great title and be performing well, but it is still just a job. The spark is missing. Most people share a yearning to be part of something bigger than themselves. Something they can be excited about, feel good about, that will challenge them to do something important and give performance that is "above and beyond."

Most vision statements are very dry. They talk about how well the company is going to do. My own vision statement was like that: "Canada's pre-eminent organizational development company". Does that do anything for you? Aside from ego gratification, I've realized it does nothing for me. It doesn't touch my heart. It's not the reason I'm in this business. I left another career years ago because I wanted to have a high impact on people's lives. I wanted to be an encourager. I wanted to give people hope and a way to achieve their dreams.

My new vision statement is: Every person - purposeful and fulfilled
Every job - meaningful and significant
Every company - prosperous and growing

Can you feel the difference? That grabs my emotions. It is significant. It is noble. It is motivational. It may not do anything for you if it isn't close to your heart, but it is very close to the heart of the people I want working with me. Those who will share my passion for people. You want a vision that will attract people who share your passion.

John F. Kennedy said, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." As author Karl Albrecht wrote, "Note that he didn't say We are going to conquer space, or We are going to beat the Russians in the space race, or We are going to lead the world in space technology." The power of Kennedy's vision was such that Charles Garfield wrote of the NASA engineers and scientists, "I have never seen a group of people work with such absolute focus and fervor as these people, who saw it as their own personal mission to send astronauts to the moon. They worked incredibly long hours, under intense pressure, and they loved it. They had something that added meaning and value to their own lives, and they gave 200 percent to make it come true."

A vision can be short: "The World's Favourite Airline" - British Airways. It can be a picture of the organization in the future that is very attractive: "America's Army. Trained and Ready to Fight. Serving the Nation at Home and Abroad. A Strategic Force, Capable of Decisive Victory - into the 21st Century" - The United States Army. It can be noble: "I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one. The horse will disappear from the highways, the automobile will be taken for granted." Henry Ford. It could be very grand: "To put Coke within 'arm's reach'" - Coca-Cola.

If you want to energize and motivate your employees to use more of their creativity and initiative; if you want to build team spirit and commitment, then write a vision.

Quick Check!
1. Do you have a vision statement and, if so, is it highly motivational?
2. How does society benefit from your product or service?
3. What is the basic driving "idea" behind your business?
4. What emotional pull could your vision use?
5. Write a vision that is simple, easy to grasp and that reflects the business you are in.

Author's Bio: 

John Pellowe is president of Canadian Leadership Corp.
We work with business leaders to grow their leadership teams and achieve significant business results.
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