Change threatens us all, especially when it occurs in organizations in which we hold valued positions. Changes to culture, structures, practices, or behaviors threaten our sense of self within the organization. Will we have a place, and if so, what will that be? And will that organization remain one in which we desire to belong?
The continued success of an organization, however, requires that it grow and develop–change. As times and circumstances change, so too must the internal and external functions of an organization. But if the members are unable or unwilling to change, then change will not happen.
Research has discovered that how organizational leaders envision change and then communicate that vision has a significant influence over both the reception of that vision and subsequent actions taken by the members (Venus, Stam, & van Knippenberg, 2019). An effective vision of change assures members that whatever changes are coming, the organizational identity will be preserved and the members’ role will be clear. Conceiving and communicating an effective vision of change requires an Effective Visionary Leader. The research study identified the two things effective visionary leaders do:
- Create a compelling image of the organization’s future. This vision of the future is clearly different from the present and thus requires collective change by all members for the vision–and future–to be achieved.
- Communicate the vision with an emphasis on organizational continuity. The change must be envisioned as a progression in the growth and development of both the organization and its’ people. Communicating a vision in this manner preserves members’ identity, commitment, and sense of belonging.
In the words of leadership scholar Warren Bennis, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Effective visionary leaders do just that.
Venus, M., Stam, D., & van Knippenberg, D. (2019). Visions of Change as Visions of Continuity. Academy of Management Journal, 62(3), 667–690. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2015.1196