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Mission And Vision Statements - Foundational For Successful Leaders
Successful leaders and organizations are vision driven rather than problem driven. Some management tools fail to affect any change; but here is one that will, if properly implemented.
Mission and Vision Statements have been crafted by organizations and leaders for years. The attention to mission and vision is warranted, as studies indicate that organizations that have Mission and Vision Statements quite simply outperform those that do not.
Then why is it that in some organizations these statements do little more than signify a loss commensurate with the costs: books purchased, speakers and consultants hired, and seminars held? Well, when expectations are not met, these statements are seen as being a waste of time and money and an organization continues to function as it always has.
This scenario plays out too often. Mission and Vision Statements are not solutions - they are tools that must be used by willing and capable owners, leaders, managers and supervisors. These tools fail to live up to expectations often because of a lack of leadership commitment. Where Mission and Vision Statements have succeeded there is top to bottom unequivocal support - it is required.
How can any organization, regardless of the type or size, become truly successful if they cannot answer the fundamental questions "Why do we exist" and "Where are we going?" Mission and Vision Statements answer these all-important questions. It is important to understand the difference between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement and the role of each.
A Mission Statement is a declaration as to why an organization exists and defines the business the organization is currently in. Mission Statements concentrate on the present and are a reflection of an organization's core competencies - the basic skills or products provided.
A Vision Statement focuses on the future. It states what you want the organization to be. Vision Statements come from the heart as well as the head. A Vision Statement represents a realistic dream for an organization and forces it to take a stand for a preferred future.
Mission and Vision Statements are critical to the success of strategic planning. A Mission Statement identifies a starting point or current state of business, but a Vision Statement is necessary for an organization to determine the direction that should be pursued. As the Cheshire Cat in the Adventures of Alice in Wonderland explained to little Alice, "If you do not know where you are going, it does not matter which road you take." Without the clarity of vision, your strategic plan - your roadmap to achieve your vision - may prove useless. A strategic plan that is not constructed using a Mission Statement as its foundation and a Vision Statement as the way to set attainable goals for a foreseeable future usually send an organization into planning limbo.
In addition to their importance in strategic planning, effective Mission and Vision Statements have other visible benefits. These statements: •Help with decision making •Articulate a reason for being •Create organizational unity •Help link diverse organizational units •Provide focus and direction •Motivate organizational members toward a more desirable future
Once Mission and Vision Statements have been developed, they must be continually communicated, tested and lived by those within the organization. This is key to ensuring that the vision stays alive and works. Mission and Vision Statements are essential for a successful future but they do not come about without deliberate effort and commitment, by both employees and leadership.
The oftentime hesitation by an organization's leadership is understandable. By their very nature, Mission and Vision Statements will bring about change and change is typically accompanied by additional costs and risks. However, rather than fear it, leaders must embrace the concept. Some leadership tools fail to affect any change; but here is one that will do so if properly implemented. Therefore the focus should be on ensuring that an organization's mission(s) and vision(s) are properly aligned and used so that their benefits can be realized. Be a vision driven leader rather than a problem driven leader.
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