The Necessity of Vision

In “The Leadership Challenge,” authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner point out, “There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.” While some have recently argued that a “vision” is unrealistic in a time of such rapid change, I would maintain that one of the primary ways to distinguish a leader from a non-leader is the holding of this view of what could be.

Vision is so important to leadership because of the impact it has on followers. Of course it is important to have a strategic plan in mind for the future, but more importantly, followers need to feel that there is some stability in the mind of their leader. The customer, the marketplace or even the employee base may go through dramatic evolution, but if the leader has established a compelling vision, he or she can find ways to change the objectives but keep the vision.

True leaders are able to hold their vision because of their belief in their own abilities and in the abilities of their people. Changing landscapes are inconvenient, and they may effect the timelines or operations, but they do not have to validate the desire to succeed. Leaders find a way to stay connected to the reality of the situation without losing sight of the ultimate objective.

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