by Glenn Lang
– Simply defined a vision statement is a future-oriented declaration of purpose, intentions, or aspirations. A vision statement essentially says that based on our purpose (mission) this is what we aspire to accomplish, become, or the impact we hope to have. For those who work in mission-based organizations, which are ones that have a legislatively defined or service-based mission, as opposed to a profit-driven purpose, having a clear vision is an important driver for strategy and action. A clear vision defines to the public, stakeholders, clients/consumers, and staff what if they are successful and what the future holds in store. Vision statements can be brief slogans like “The New Frontier,” “The Great Society” or “America First” (no political judgments here), or what I consider one of the most powerful vision statements, Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” refrain.
It is important to note that vision statements are in constant use around all to paint multiple (desirable) images about how things “should be” depending on the audience. It requires a constantly critical eye to parse the multiple vision messages that confront us.
Concisely, while mission speaks to what we are, our purpose, our vision speaks to aspiration of what we want to become, and what impact we want to have.
Vision statements are not limited to organization but are important individually. A leaders or managers personal vision for an organization or unit has a direct impact on performance, outcomes, and impacts. It is the leader’s visualization of where their area of responsibility and influence will be and the impact it will have. A clear vision is one of the elements that separates a leader from a manager/supervisor.
Lastly, how often in a job interview does the annoying question of where do you see yourself in 5 years come up? Here is where having a personal. Prepared vision comes into play. Have you researched the organization? The unit? Its mission and clientele? Where do you as the potential hire envision the unit or organization in the next 3-5 years. What impact do you believe you can have? How can you advance the mission of the organization? Of the community and stakeholders? You are an artist. Paint a picture of the future!