Can A Vision Really Help My Leadership Career?

I've been asked many times, "Can a vision really help my leadership career?"

In a word, the answer is a resounding "yes"! 

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

excerpt from Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Similar to the Cheshire Cat's response to Alice in the quotation above, if you don't much care where you are headed, then it doesn't really matter which way you go.

On the other hand, if you do care where you are headed ...

... then having a deliberate plan can be very powerful in propelling you specifically toward that endpoint.

Having a formal, written down vision is certainly not a requirement for a successful leadership career, however, being clear in your mind about where you are headed is definitely a necessity! You'll also want to make sure that the direction you plan for your career makes sense with your overall life goals and objectives.

The faster you gain clarity in these areas, the quicker you will have your leadership career on track.

Let's define what a vision is and then explore how creating one can help your leadership career.

What Exactly Is A Vision?

In the simplest of terms, a vision can be described as the big goal for your leadership career.  It describes an ultimate end-point or state you envision that will bring you a sense of success and satisfaction with your journey. A vision is often described in a statement or a short paragraph. And there is a sense of aspiration in a vision, a hope, or a place where things are better in the future than they are now.

If you're looking to sit down and create your vision, my blog post Create Your Leadership Vision in Four Simple Steps will be helpful. 

When it comes to creating your one vision that incorporates your leadership career and your personal life, I like to think of this as the Big Vision. If you are keeping your leadership career vision and your life vision separate (for now), then it is imperative that your life vision and your career vision are congruent and in harmony with one another!

While it may seem ironic, your vision does need to be reviewed from time to time as your life and career unfold. You may wish to define your vision in a way that it can adjust and flex for you. Alternatively, you could plan to review and refine it at some regular interval such as annually.

I have learned over my life and career, that although plans will always change, moving forward without a plan leaves one unfocused, less likely to make improvements to the status quo, and much like Alice, you could end up anywhere!

The Concept Of Ikigai

There is a Japanese concept known as ikigai. Loosely translated, ikigai means 'one's reason for being'. Going through the ikigai exercise will allow you to see where your beliefs, your values, your vocation, and your passions intersect. It is disarmingly simple, yet quite tricky to pin down.

Moving through this exercise will also help you as you think about your Leadership Vision. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles is a beautiful book and a great read.

Examples Of A Leadership Vision

To further describe the nature of a vision, I have created some mock examples in the list below:

  • To become the scientist who finds the cure for all cancers.
  • To be the first in my family to become a successful lawyer.
  • To be the CEO of Amazon someday.
  • To have 4 children and be in the C-suite of my company before I am 40.
  • To have a job where I earn enough money to be the first generation in my family to be able to afford to send my kids to college.
  • To dedicate my life to the education of bright students in lower socio-economic communities to enable change in society.
  • To be the best wife, mother, accountant I can be and have a healthy, consistent work-life balance, meeting my goals in both the personal and professional aspects of my life.

As you look through this list you will see a couple of themes pop-out.

These visions are all relatively long-term in nature, and this is a key factor that differentiates a vision from a more metric-based, short-term goal.

These vision statements also have a 'why'. If you read between the lines you can infer some sense of the values that the vision holder has in their life.

As you ponder your Vision, be thinking about long-term desires and aspirations, what is it that is important to you in your life, and what might be your 'why' that underpins your vision.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Vision?

There is a myriad of benefits to having a vision for your life and career.  With a strong sense of where you are going, what it is you aspire to, and why - you are much more likely to take the daily actions required, and make the daily choices necessary, to attain your vision.

Having your vision in hand brings clarity, a sense of purpose that brings meaning to your life, and motivates and energizes you on your leadership journey.

Three of the benefits having a vision will bring in supporting your leadership career progress are:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3

In practice, these operate together and are intertwined with one another, creating a positive momentum of growth and synchronicity as the various decisions you make all start to propel you forward in one focused direction.

But to break it down, let's look at how each one of these contributes to speeding up your leadership career progress.

1. Clarity

Your leadership journey is a long-term proposition, and so it can be easy to lose sight of your ultimate dreams and hopes in the day-to-day choices you make. It is human to have days where our minds wander and we respond to every request that comes over our desktop, whether it is a priority or not.

Having your vision in place will give you a level of clarity and focus that can help you avoid over-spending effort on lower priority activities.

This focus will help you achieve more in each of your days that is meaningful when it comes to achieving both your short-term goals and your leadership vision. And you'll know when to say 'no' to activities that don't support your vision, as well as be less likely to waste time feeling distracted or overwhelmed trying to figure out what your priorities are.

The result from this enhanced focused effort will be better results for you and your team.  Better results will lead to more opportunities coming your way to take on increasing levels of responsibility, as well as one-off, special assignments. Succeeding in these will contribute to accelerating your advancement.

2. Purpose

Spending your days doing things that have meaning to you contributes to your sense of purpose and meaning in your life. Your leadership vision will ground you in your specific purpose and meaning for your day to day activities.

There is significant evidence that having a purpose in our work creates a sense of well-being and happiness in both our days and our long-term satisfaction. Additionally, progress begets progress, and so the more you are working on what is meaningful for you, the more energy and joy you will have for working on more of these activities, leading to even greater sense of satisfaction.

Your well-being and ability to stay positive in completing your leadership tasks will improve your performance as a leader and will be evident in the ways that you show up for your team, your peers and you boss. 

You will also feel happier, have greater satisfaction, and have a greater impact on others as your leadership journey progresses.

3. Motivation

There will be days when you are feeling less energized about your career. There may be a disappointment or setback that you are facing at work, or there may be some stress going on in your personal life. 

When you need to summon up some courage and motivation for those days, the leadership vision you've created for yourself can be a great reminder of your purpose and help you guide yourself back to 'why' you are doing the things you are doing, and to maintain a positive outlook and momentum forward.

Your vision will keep your intentions at the front of your mind and get you through the more difficult times you face.

Final Thoughts

  • Your leadership vision will bring clarity, purpose, and motivation to your days, weeks, months, and years. Having clarity, purpose, and motivation will result in you feeling a greater level of satisfaction, being focused on the highest priority activities, and you performing at your best - all of which add up to greater advancement opportunities.
  • There are many ways to go about creating your vision. The ikigai process is one example that can help you think through your values, beliefs, vocation, and passions. Magenta Roads also has a simple 4-step process that you can learn more about by reading my blog post Create Your Leadership Vision in Four Simple Steps 
  • There is some genius in developing your vision and it will act as a guidepost for you when you are unsure and need direction. If this is not your experience, then it might be time to update your vision, or reach out to a trusted peer or mentor and use them as a sounding board in exploring how well your vision fits your current aspirations.

Supporting you on your leadership journey, 

Magenta Roads, Principal, Carla Santamaria

To learn more about how Magenta Roads can support your leadership journey, visit magentaroads.com

PS. Please share if you found this helpful.


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