Strategic leadership at its most basic definition is determining the mission or goals for an organization, developing a clear plan of attack to get there and understanding the actions needed to sustain that state throughout the organization as a whole.
Perhaps the most difficult of these steps and obviously the most crucial is the first – developing a Vision and Mission. The vision is a large often grand future view of the firm – where management and/or owners want the firm to be in decades. It should state the company’s fundamental purpose and should answer the question “Why does this company exist”. A vision should not be (at least solely) based on pleasing shareholders or making a profit. A Vision can’t and shouldn’t be something that can be achieved over night as they wouldn’t be worthy of the effort involved if they were that easy. The vision is what should drive all employees as well as all major management decisions. Truly great companies differentiate between what things of a company should change with the market and what should not. Short-term and intermediate-term strategies may need to change frequently as the market ebbs and flows, but a company’s Vision should be sustained and seen as something unchanged by outside market forces.
While the preceding talked mainly about a company’s vision, the mission statement is more of an action plan for how a company will get to the place the vision statement idealizes. While the vision asks “where do we want to be” the mission asks “what do we need to do to get there”. As pointed out above, short-term and intermediate-term strategies need to be able to change and as such, a mission statement may change. However, the mission statement should always be an extension of the overall vision statement and should always continue to strive to achieve the vision.
When thinking of the vision as the desired end-goal and the mission as the road map to achieve that end-goal, the...