It is axiomatic in organizational leadership that vision is important for moving an organization forward. In this post, I am not interested in continuing to beat that drum, but I would like to point out what vision does for employees.

Hope. People want to work for something that is headed somewhere. The direction provided by strong vision gives people hope they are part of something effective that will make a difference. The second advantage is closely tied to the first:

Sense of purpose. A strong vision will tie to a sense of mission that provides purpose to the organization. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and vision is necessary to tie people to that larger purpose.

It’s hard to get where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re going. Unfortunately, many employees desire to do good work that contributes to where the organization is headed, but the vision is so murky they don’t know how or even if their role ties to any sense of direction. The result is employees who are simply going through the motions.

Focus. A compelling vision allows key employees to focus their efforts on the things that truly matter.

Desire. A compelling vision describes a future state. Highlighting the difference between where we are now and where we would like to be creates the desire to move forward. The desire to achieve a vision, a designed future rather than a default future, is one of the key factors in job satisfaction.

Know if they’re in the right place. Sometimes a good employee will look at the vision and realize this isn’t the right place for them. While it can be painful to lose a good employee, both the company and the individual are better served by working towards a vision that inspires them.

As leaders, it is important to recognize that clear, compelling vision does more for the organization and its people than simple goal setting. Your people are hungry for vision, so give it to them.

-Eric Smith