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

Successful transformation needs a clear vision. Even in turbulent times, it gives a company the orientation, orientation and clarity it needs to respond to external changes and not only survive the change, but actively participate in shaping it. It gives each individual 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 achieve in X years?”

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

In the automotive market and in mobility, we are facing massive changes. The range of predictions is large. Last year, a study by RethinkX predicted rapid, radical change. A few weeks ago I described in a roadmap scenario why in 15 years nobody would buy a car anymore. Now, in the “Outlook for Energy“, Exxon Mobil is again drawing a much more conservative picture of the transport sector for the year 2040. Although the past few years have already produced many innovations and changes, in my eyes the real change is still ahead of us. Key enabling technologies are developing exponentially. This means that the pace of change will increase significantly in the coming years. Established markets and value chains are broken up by the new technologies. Revenues are redistributed.

This shows me the impossibility of predicting long-term developments and thus the need for each leadership team to develop their own picture of the future. However, this picture of the future does not only have to reflect the expected changes, but also needs to sheds light on all entrepreneurially relevant future perspectives.

The desired future, i.e. the entrepreneurial vision, has proven to be a particularly powerful leadership 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 concrete picture of an ambitious, jointly desired and feasible future for the company. And in that definition every word is important. Only when all aspects are fulfilled, the vision unfolds its full potential, which I have already witnessed in many companies.

Some great leaders bear such a vision within themselves and naturally know how engage their environment. The success or failure of the vision is also determined by their ability to inspire their employees for the vision. For the majority of leadership teams, developing a true vision involves hard work. But it’s worth it.

You can only lead your employees effectively into the future if you have a clear, motivating and robust picture of this future yourself. Without vision you do not lead. At best, you become a commander and foreman. Without an attractive and credible vision of the future, in the face of challenges people always fall back on the familiar and the known, even if these habits no longer fit to the market. Only with a clear vision motivation emerges in the sense of a “destination”. This is much stronger than trying to get away from something.

The vision creates a shared mental map in the minds of executives and employees. The unity is increased, priorities become clearer. Many time-consuming discussions are eliminated, as the basic orientation is much stronger. A vision also harmonizes the projects and processes by defining a common goal to contribute to. It increases agility, responsiveness and efficiency.

Employees who embrace the vision of the future have something to look forward to and work on with passion and strength. Anyone looking forward to something is more motivated, focused and even healthier. The success of every single person, the team and the company become significantly greater.