We need vision: How to use your most powerful leadership tool

Successful transformation requires a clear vision. Even in turbulent times, it gives a company the orientation, focus and clarity it needs to respond to external changes and not only survive change, but actively shape it. It gives each and every employee an answer to the questions “Where do we want to go?”. Who do we want to be in the future? What do we want to have achieved in X years?” It is a powerful management tool.

While clear assumptions about the future provide orientation about future changes in the market, the vision shows us the direction for our own development.

While you still hear politicians talking about a bright future for the diesel engine, the leaders of successful automotive companies, suppliers and mobility service providers are already gearing their businesses up for the next era.

We are facing massive changes in the automotive market and in mobility as a whole. The range of predictions is wide. Last year, a study by RethinkX predicted rapid, absolutely radical change. A few weeks ago, I describes in a raodmap scenarion why no one could buy a car in 15 years. Now, in its Outlook for Energy, Exxon Mobil again paints a much more conservative picture of the transportation sector for 2040. Even though the past few years have already brought about many innovations and changes, the real transformation still lies ahead of us in my eyes. Crucial enabling technologies are developing exponentially. This means that the pace of change will once again increase significantly in the coming years. Established markets and value chains are being broken up and reorganized by the new technologies, and revenues are being redistributed.

To me, this shows the impossibility of predicting long-term developments and thus the need for each management team to develop its own picture of the future. However, this picture of the future must not only reflect the expected changes, but also illuminate all perspectives relevant to the company.

In particular, the aspired future, i.e. the entrepreneurial vision, has proven to be a powerful management tool. A vision is neither a marketing slogan nor a collection of generic values such as customer focus, agility or innovation leadership. To be truly effective, it must be the concrete image of a fascinating, jointly aspired to and realizable future for the company. And in this definition, every word is important. Only when all aspects are fulfilled can the vision develop its full power, as I have seen in many companies.

Some great leaders carry such a vision within themselves and understand how to naturally carry their environment along with them. The success or failure of the vision is also determined by its ability to inspire employees for the vision. For the majority of leadership teams, developing a true vision involves hard work. But it is worth it.

You can only effectively lead your employees from today into tomorrow if you yourself have a clear, motivating and robust picture of that future. Without vision, you don’t lead. At best, they make themselves commanders and foremen. Without an attractive and credible image of the future, people always retreat to the familiar and known when faced with challenges, even if it is no longer viable in a competitive environment. Only with a clear vision does a real motivation arise in the sense of a “towards”. This is much stronger than a “way from”.

The vision creates a shared mental map in the minds of managers and employees. Unity is increased, priorities become clearer. Many time-consuming discussions are eliminated because the basic direction is much clearer. A vision thus also harmonizes projects and processes by defining a point towards which they must all converge. It increases agility, responsiveness and efficiency. Use it as a management tool!

Employees who embrace the vision of the future have something to look forward to and work on with passion and vigor. People who look forward to something are more motivated, more focused and even healthier. The success of each individual, the team and the company becomes much greater.

Follow these links as well:

► The Future Strategy Program for SMEs

► Free video crash course THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS
► BUSINESS WARGAMING for robust business and future opportunities
► KEYNOTES by Pero Mićić for your employees and customers

Have a bright future!