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Leadership Characteristics -- Vision

Updated on November 12, 2018
Andrew Wayne Cook profile image

Wayne has over 40 years experience leading organizations to revitalization. He has been published in periodicals and newsletters and books.

The leader will map out the future for his/her organization or group.


A Leader Has a Vision of the Future When Nobody Else Does

What moves an organization forward even when others stagnate? Who or what creates a future for the organization?

Many organizations miss out on success because there is no vision. That's where a leader's ability to see ahead comes in. The successful leader will have a vision that guides the organization through its successes and failures in order to arrive at an exalted position in its achievements. It all starts with a leader's vision of where the organization is going.

It is similar to the advice given to a teenager learning to drive the family automobile during the late 1950's. The fatherly advice was "Look at where you are going instead of where you are and where you have been." Recently, that teenager, who is now in his seventies, tells his grandson who is learning to navigate the family's riding mower the same sage advice.


Organizations must be driven by a vision. It matters not that the endeavor is commercial or if it is non-profit. The advice is still the same. Know where you are headed.

Standard Oil is a good example of that. John D. Rockefeller formed Standard Oil Corporation during the late nineteenth century. He understood the vision that would guide the company for many years. His vision was for the company to produce products that would modernize the work of most households in America. That vision led the company to many modern inventions and enabled the automotive industry to thrive in its early days.

The company not only survived but thrived because of that vision. So much so that the government changed the laws regarding monopolies.

Another example is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Founded by Dr. Graham and his associates, their vision has guided the Association throughout their ministries and after their retirement and subsequent deaths. Their vision was simple. Reach the whole world with the message of the gospel. It started with citywide crusades. It continued through television, radio, and the printed page. They saw their vision and mission as central to their organization's purpose.

As the organization continued, the vision was the guiding force. They intended to reach as many people as possible, by any means possible, as often as possible. When America saw many large ministry organizations suffer and fail because of the founders who lost their vision and failed to see how their failures would impact the gospel message, BGEA continued on its journey toward the vision that had been created for the organization.

Every organization starts with a vision. The wise leader will keep the organization aware of the vision and guide the mission of the organization with that vision. Once the organization sees the vision come to fruition, the leader must have a vision of where to go next. Visions must grow and change with the changes of the world around them.

The NASA vision was to orbit a man in space. Then it was to land a man on the moon. Then it was for the space station where people could live in space and work toward the next vision -- to land on Mars. NASA's vision still leads it into the future. The vision is constantly relayed to the staff and employees...even when government funding is reduced.


The vision of an organization must be clear at its inception and continue through its progression and never lead it to a conclusion unless the purpose of the organization was limited to the short term. Even then, the vision drives that temporary organization to fulfill its purpose.

The vision must be articulated by its leadership. That articulation must be concise and succinct. It must be seen as achievable by the followers but remain a constant challenge as the organization progresses.

An organization must not suffer blindness whether caused by its leaders not articulating the vision or because the followers refuse to follow that vision. Vision cannot be lost to the organization. An organization that loses its vision loses its purpose.

The future is bright for those organizations whose leadership has a vision and articulates it often to the entire organization.

Vision by its definition is seeing the future. There is a sight of what is ahead, where the organization is going, and how to know when it arrives there.

A final word. Not only must a vision be articulated and visible to the whole organization from the president to the custodian, but how to reach that vision must also be made public to all members of the organization. The vision must be broken into goals and steps with interim steps to arrive at the ultimate goal of the vision.

The adage of how to eat an elephant is one bite at a time is true of any organization. The way to reach the vision is to take one step at a time.


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