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Leadership Vision

By steve - Posted on 09 November 2009

To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn't know where he is going.
--Joe Namath

One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to create, and share, a vision.

A vision is a picture of where your group is headed. What are you trying to create? Why does your group exist? Where are we going?

You can read all the leadership books and blogs you want, but leadership boils down to just a few elements.

The key elements of leadership are:

  1. Vision: you must know where you are going.
  2. Trust: you must deserve, earn, and maintain the trust of those you would lead.
  3. Certainty: you must be certain of your objectives.
  4. Transparency: no hidden agendas, no double standards.

The most important of these is Vision. If you don't have one, why do you want to be a leader? Any other motive, other than implementing a vision, is probably selfish and unworthy.

Keys to a good vision:

  • Clarity: easily expressed and understood.
  • Brevity: a few well chosen words create the picture.
  • Honed: remove the extraneous.
  • Worthy: something big and important.
  • Expandable: room for everyone to plug in.

Your vision should fit into what is typically called an "elevator speech". It should be clear, concise, and honed to the point where you can deliver the vision and its importance in the time it takes to ride an elevator. When you share your vision, you should share enough so that the person you are talking to wants to know more and, if they share in your vision, wants to get involved.

Here's a comparison of a good vision statement and a bad vision statement:

Good Example: Whole Foods Market

Whole foods, whole people, whole planet.

Bad Example: Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil Corporation is committed to being the world's premier petroleum and petrochemical company. To that end, we must continuously achieve superior financial and operating results while adhering to the highest standards of business conduct. These unwavering expectations provide the foundation for our commitments to those with whom we interact.


We are committed to enhancing the long-term value of the investment dollars entrusted to us by our shareholders. By running the business profitably and responsibly we expect our shareholders to be rewarded with superior returns. This commitment drives the management of our company.


Success depends on our ability to consistently satisfy ever-changing customer preferences. We pledge to be innovative and responsive, while offering high quality products and services at competitive prices.


The exceptional quality of our workforce is a valuable competitive edge. To build on this advantage we will strive to hire and retain the most qualified people available and maximize their opportunities for success through training and development. We are committed to maintaining a safe work environment enriched by diversity and characterized by open communication, trust, and fair treatment.


We pledge to be a good corporate citizen in all the places we operate worldwide. We will maintain the highest ethical standards, obey all applicable laws and regulations, and respect local and national cultures. Above all other objectives, we are dedicated to running safe and environmentally responsible operations.

To be successful, ExxonMobil must be at the leading edge of competition in every aspect of our business. This requires that the Corporation's substantial resources - financial, operational, technological, and human - be employed wisely and evaluated regularly.

While we maintain flexibility to adapt to changing conditions, the nature of our business requires a focused, long-term approach. We will consistently strive to improve efficiency and productivity through learning, sharing and implementing best practices. We will be disciplined and selective in evaluating the range of capital investment opportunities available to us. We will seek to develop proprietary technologies that provide a competitive edge.

We will achieve our goals by flawlessly executing our business plans and by strictly adhering to these guiding principles along with our more comprehensive Standards of Business Conduct.

So, if you want to be a leader, start honing your vision.

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