“When you have a sense of your own identity and a vision of where you want to go in your life, you then have the basis for reaching out to the world and going after your dreams for a better life.” Stedman Graham
In this second feature dedicated to vision and the common good, Council on Business & Society’s Christian Koenig and Tom Gamble approach how vision can create purpose – a key ingredient for inspiring people to achieve not only for themselves but also for the wider benefit of teams, business, and society.
PART 2: Vision – or a way to create purpose for the benefit of all
Vision is one of those moments in which leadership really has a chance to shine. Faced with transformation, challenge, survival, setback, hardship, trial or change so common to today’s business environments, teams and organisations need the inspiration and belief to lift them up from the ground and set them towards a future to which they want to belong. Vision is all about hope and the effort required to reach a new world. It is also about providing a picture of where the leader wants to take the whole organisation, the purpose of that journey for the benefit of the wider community or system, the strategies and objectives along the way and the concrete benefits and gains when that vision is reached. It empowers individuals, binds teams in common belief and effort and leads organisations to new markets, new strengths, self-esteem and recognition. Vision inspires people. And when people are inspired they strive for great achievement regardless of the fears, obstacles or risks they may be confronted with.
Vision and the wider purpose – vision with a mission…
Above all, and perhaps the driving motivation affecting everything else it hopes to achieve, a vision needs wider purpose. In climbing the mountain and discovering the new world in the environment beyond, people and organisations are not just doing it for themselves. They are making that extraordinary effort for the benefit of others too. This wider purpose could be the team itself, the organisation, the team’s customers, its suppliers, partners, stakeholders or society at large. Indeed, it has become a remarkable and defining feature of the 21st century corporate world that responsible vision calls for a wider perspective than the organization’s immediate periphery: that of benefiting the common good.
…And with meaning
Many start-ups and outward-looking organisations systematically tie in their activities, goals and visions to adding value or contributing to the larger system of things, be it through sustainability, re-investing part of profits into educational or development programmes across the globe, or sponsoring research projects that will improve humankind and the planet. Working for this wider purpose appeals to the spiritual aspect of our efforts and role in the wider picture and takes people’s motivations up a notch to provide the energy and belief to achieve. In a nutshell, it creates meaning for people and benefits both business and the common good. Articulating it with the impact of business on society makes vision engaging.
Written and edited by Christian Koenig, Executive Director of the Council on Business & Society and Associate Dean for International Affairs, and Tom Gamble, executive trainer and consultant in learning strategies, ESSEC Business School. With acknowledgement to Robert Dilts.
The forthcoming part 3 of this feature covers the question of how a vision is created, how to roll it out and its impact on people, organisations and the wider environment.
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