Story at the Center

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  • JUly 3, 2024
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Breaking the Chains of Indecision: Why Leaders Must Define a Bold Vision

Marcello Grande - Chief Strategy Officer/Executive Creative Director

Marcello Grande

Chief Strategy Officer/Executive Creative Director

If you know anything about my perspective on vision as strategy, then you know it’s a cornerstone of our philosophy at 1P. Vision isn’t just a lofty ideal; it’s a catalyst for radical transformation. I’ve seen it propel new categories of business and ignite powerful shifts, even in mature and publicly traded companies.

Working closely with CEOs and CMOs, I’ve helped translate those potent, sometimes chaotic ideas in their heads into clear, actionable strategic visions that everyone in the organization can rally behind. But for every CEO who I have helped harness the power of vision, there are just as many who get stuck in the weeds, unable to break free from indecision and ultimately, miss out on the game-changing results they were aiming for.

Vision is not just an abstract concept; it’s a vital strategic tool.

Apple, for example, has a vision that enhances the human experience through technology, creating deeper connections with customers and employees. Apple’s vision is “to make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it.” This corporate vision statement includes excellence and the net benefits of the technology company’s products.

Apple’s vision statement has the following components:
    • Making the best products
    • The world as the target market
    • Leaving the world better

Similarly, General Electric’s vision statement is “To become the world’s premier digital industrial company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive, and predictive.” This vision directs GE’s strategies toward industry leadership.

General Electric’s vision statement includes:
    • Becoming the world’s premier digital industrial company
    • Industry transformation
    • Software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive, and predictive

Leading Change: The CEO's Role as a Visionary

Defining a vision takes courage, and the fear of failure can be paralyzing, but inaction is worse. Whether you realize it or not, as a CEO, you must define and communicate your company’s purpose and inspire employees to contribute to this vision.

Your employees look to you for direction and inspiration. They need to understand your vision for the future of the company, what drives you, and what they are collectively working towards. As a change agent, you have to be able to not only see the future of your industry and lead your company to adapt, but to paint a vibrant picture of what it looks like when you get there.

In my experience, no one else is going to do that for you, although you should be collaborating with your team to make them part of the process.

A well-defined vision serves as your North Star, guiding decision-making and aligning efforts across the organization. It embodies your aspirations, purpose, and the big problems you aim to solve transforming how your organization operates and competes. If you do it right, your vision becomes the rallying cry for the entire organization.

Top-performing CEOs create immense value. Research from McKinsey shows that the 200 best CEOs generate $5 trillion in excess value. The top 20% of these leaders produce roughly 90% of their industry’s value and deliver 2.8 times more total shareholder return (TSR) annually compared to their average counterparts.

A common factor among these successful leaders is a clear and compelling vision that drives them.

The CEO’s influence is significant, directly contributing to 45% of a company’s performance. Additionally, a CEO’s ability to foster leadership throughout the organization—impacting how managers lead their teams—is crucial for enhancing the employee experience.

However, many CEOs find it challenging to articulate a vision that transcends product features or fleeting market trends. This hesitation, often rooted in fear of making the wrong move or misunderstanding the value of vision on business outcomes, leads to paralysis that stifles innovation and progress.

The Risk of Playing It Safe: Developing and Believing in Your Vision

Playing it safe by waiting for more information or copying what’s popular might seem wise, but it’s a recipe for stagnation. Trends are fleeting and often lack the direction needed for sustainable growth.

Vision, however, is enduring. It paints a picture of an ideal state that the organization strives towards, even if it’s never fully achieved. This aspirational quality galvanizes teams, fosters loyalty, and differentiates successful companies from their competitors.

In my next blog, I’ll talk about how to develop vision as strategy, along with some practical steps to develop and believe in your vision.

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The Story at the Center blog shares insights and strategies that have helped organizations—from startups to Fortune 100s—harness the power of storytelling to navigate complexities and dominate their markets.

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