The Power of Vision, Part 1

Sight-and-Vision_Kate Ter Haar

Photo Credit: Sight and Vision, by Kate Ter Haar, Flickr

Vision is central to the work of leadership.

What is Vision

So what is vision? I define vision simply as …

a picture of a preferred future.

This picture of a preferred future can be for an individual, a family, a team, an organization, or a society.

By “picture” I do not mean a literal image, but rather a mental picture of an envisioned future reality that is preferable and desirable by those most closely connected to the vision. A major part of the work of leadership is communicating this picture of a preferred future in a manner that is compelling and unifying.

Characterizing Vision

John Kotter provides the following characteristics of vision:

  • Imaginable
  • Desirable
  • Feasible
  • Focused
  • Flexible
  • Communicable

In keeping with these characteristics, Burt Nanus describes vision as a realistic, credible, and attractive future.

As leaders help to paint a picture of a preferable future for their followers, the vision becomes compelling and unifying as it is realistic, feasible, credible, attractive, and desirable.

From Sight to Vision

On this distinction between sight and vision, Max De Pree writes:

We can teach ourselves to see things the way they are.
Only with vision can we begin to see things the way they can be.”

Although our eyes allow us to see what is, vision is the pathway by which we can see…and help others to see…what can be.

From Vision to Reality

As we move from sight to vision, the next step is about moving from vision to reality. Warren Bennis describes the work of leadership in the following manner:

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

Vision is about possibility. The work of leadership is about helping to translate this preferable possibility into living reality.

But vision is not only a picture of preferred future possibility. Vision and the leadership work of vision casting become the means by which leaders help organizations move from vision to reality.

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In the month ahead I will be highlighting several additional features related to vision. Why is it important for leaders, followers, and organizations? What challenges come along with the leadership work of vision casting? Why is vision a primary tool with which leaders work?

Take a moment to share you thoughts on vision below.


Here are all of the post links for this series:

11 thoughts on “The Power of Vision, Part 1

  1. Justin, excellent post. I’m looking forward to the series. Our software development business is “under the hood” looking at up-close decisions.But we’re ready to ask Christ to cast the bigger-picture vision of what He’s up to in the future, that even goes beyond what we can see right away. Our biggest challenge is are cash flow, while we’re building the foundation/scaffolding software platform that will support future contracts.

    • Hi Lynn, Thanks for your comments and engagement with the blog. I hope the series is helpful as you are looking toward the preferred future for your business. God’s best to you as you balance out these short and long-term decisions that need to be made.

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