Vision. What is your reaction to this word?
Is it negative? Perhaps you have been involved in vision-building activities that never really made a difference in how your organization functioned or in your results. Perhaps your organization, like many others, failed to live by its vision once it was created.
Effective leaders engage people throughout the organization in building commitment toward the shared vision that becomes the guiding force for all action. A great example of this is schools that have established a vision of an unyielding commitment to ensure that all students meet local standards. The vision drives all behaviours and informs all of the school's operations, structures, and allocation of resources. Another example is schools that envision themselves as providing the best quality instruction, without exception. Again, the vision shapes what the staff does, including making sure every teacher is supported to learn and carry out best practice and use ongoing analysis of data and results to find out what is working and what needs to be changed.
Many organizations have vision and mission statements. Most visions, however, are not shared visions. They are imposed on others by the head of the organization or a group of people at the top. These visions are not effective long term because they "command compliance - not commitment" (Senge, 1990). A shared vision is different. A shared vision incorporates individual visions, engenders commitment, and focuses energy. As Senge (1990) says, "When people truly share a vision, they are connected, bound together by a common aspiration. Shared visions derive their power from a common caring".
Kouzes and Posner (2002) suggest that leaders inspire people to come to a shared vision that is appropriate for them based on carefully considering how future trends will affect them and what reputable people are predicting about their business in the next 10 years. As leaders, you must look at this future and help to build a shared vision based on that. Schools that have visions based on old trends and data from prior decades are going to be locked in the past.
Don't confuse vision and mission. Vision is knowing where you want to be or what you want to become. It includes tangibles, as well as intangibles, such as virtues and the culture you that you want to surround you. Mission is your reason for being and the work you pursue to realize your vision. Your mission guides your actions to achieve what you envision for yourself and your organization.
From: Leading Every Day by Joyce Kaser, Susan Mundry, Katherine E. Stiles, & Susan Loucks-Horsley
Published by: Corwin Press