Prior to 1995, the wolves of Yellowstone National Park (USA) were hunted to extinction. Following their re-introduction into Yellowstone the wolves had a surprisingly remarkable influence on the rest of the food chain. Known as a trophic cascade, there were extensive changes throughout the whole Park’s ecosystem- incredibly even changes to the geography of the mountains and rivers! Similarly, leaders in an organisation are able to create trophic cascades that greatly affect everyone in the organisation. Leaders creating a clear purpose and vision for direct reports is just one example of a cascade that ripples vast positive change in performance, wellbeing, and culture right down the organisation. The first step in this process is for the leader to ask why the organisation exists and from there construct a clear vision.
Vision clarity refers to the communication, understanding, and acceptance surrounding organisational, team and individual goals. Recent research has found that when leaders effectively instil team-members with a clear vision and purpose, it has a positive impact on team performance. This vision provides an overarching compass which guides the employees towards a clear goal. Otherwise, without clear communication, understanding and acceptance of the organisation’s vision employees are likely to be wasting both time and energy. They will be completing tasks that have little or no effect on the real goals, highlighting the importance of vision clarity in an organisation’s performance.
Vision clarity feeds down into role clarity providing purpose of actions on an individual level. Increased role clarity has been proven to result in increased employee performance, employment satisfaction, organisational commitment, and a decrease in job tension. When role clarity is not found within an organisation there is often conflict caused by limited resources and conflicting targets.
A team or organisation with little vision clarity can be likened to sailing through a cyclone. The winds shift in direction and intensity constantly, making sailing in the same direction nearly impossible. Employees may be engaged with the work they are doing, like a strong wind, but if the tasks are not aligned it is extremely difficult to achieve organisational success.
Strategy is developed from vision clarity to swiftly head in the desired direction. Just how the sailors know how to optimise the boat speed based on the wind. In an organisation we can form a strategy based off our vision clarity, giving us an accessible and defined direction.
Currently, creating a clear vision is a key development area for many leaders. PeopleScape recently conducted a review of data collected from the PeopleScape Leading for Performance and Wellbeing 360-Degree surveyTM showing Purpose & Direction and Building Capability & Accountability were consistently the two lowest scoring factors across all participants surveyed. This demonstrates the difficulty in clearly communicating a vision, the complexity in identifying development opportunities, and holding staff accountable over the long term. It is not an easy endeavour however, when done right, a clearly defined vision and strategy allows the identification of increased business opportunities and sustained accountability.
However, unlike the wolves, this process bests involves as little carnivorous activity as possible.