Vision and the Path of Least Resistance

"Vision" has been an organizational buzz word for the last 20 or so years, and rightly so. Organizations have to know what they're doing in order to do it. Employees have to know where they're going in order to go there. Volunteers need to know the goal so they can reach it. Vision is important. 

Something I've noticed over the past couple of months as I've observed vision (or lack thereof) in a couple of areas where I'm directly involved, is that where there is an absence of vision, people always take the path of least resistance.

The presence of vision doesn't just mean that your organization has a vision statement - everyone has a vision statement. It doesn't mean that you as a leader have a vision - every leader has vision, even if it's unspoken. The presence of vision means that the people you work with know and own why they do what they do. 

If the people in your organization are only executing your vision, they'll take the path of least resistance with you. They'll do whatever you tell them to, but they won't take any risks for you. Their vision is different from yours. Your vision is for the organization; theirs is to keep you happy. So, they'll inevitably underachieve because they'll never take the extra step necessary to accomplishing what you dream.  

If people don't "buy it," they'll never own it. And if they don't own it, they can't sell it to anyone else. If people don't "get" the vision, they'll never put their necks on the line for it.  They'll always take the path of least resistance, and you as a leader will always be disappointed with their productivity. It isn't that they're lazy. It isn't that they're incompetent. It's that they don't get it, understand it, or own it. 

And most of the time, that's not their fault.