Anyone who regularly reads my column knows that I'm a big proponent of top leaders' developing engaging and compelling vision stories about where they intend to lead their organizations in the future.

As compared with the more traditional vision statement, which tends to be blasé and uninspiring, a vision story, which provides rich and vibrant detail about how the organization operates and what it feels like to be a part, serves to inform and stimulate commitment to change on the part of staff members who take the time to read and understand it.

As a person who has worked with countless leadership teams in developing and crafting their vision stories, I often wonder just how the resulting vision is being perceived by those we intend to inform and motivate. I often wonder what the persona is of the organization we're describing through our vivid visions.

To scratch that itch, I just put a recent client's vision story to the test.

My firm's proprietary automated personality test, one we use in our top management coaching, leadership development, and executive search work, was used as a means to analyze the vision story content. Centered on examining the "Big Five" personality traits (i.e., extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism), our tool applies linguistic analytics and personality theory to infer the attributes offered in its findings and analysis.

Interestingly, among all of the detailed analysis and data analytics provided, this personality summary was produced:

You are imaginative and motivated.

You are assertive. You have a tendency to take the lead in most situations, and you are seen as a natural leader. You are energetic. You revel in a fast-paced, environment. And you are trusting of others. You expect people to deliver their best effort.

You are driven to overcome obstacles.

You are notably unconcerned with tradition. And you are more interested in charting your own course than following what others have done.

You opt for activities that serve a greater purpose.

This analysis means that if this client's future company were a person, that person would have, among others, these characteristics: imagination, natural leadership, drive, high trust, and an interest in serving a greater purpose -- the very same characteristics that you would want your organization to possess in pursuit of growth and profitability.

Of course, there's some good news and some bad news that comes from this analysis. The good news is, together with my client, we've constructed a vision story that conveys exactly the tone and sentiment that we were aiming to establish. The bad news is there's a ton of work needed to move the firm, or any organization for that matter, from its current state to the achievement of its vision.

However, this kind of analysis -- characterizing how your business is being presented and perceived by others -- provides insights and perspective that you might never gather if you don't venture to discover the persona of your organization. 

To close, I will state that I intend to continue to do work in applying linguistics analytics and personality theory in the strategic planning and vision space. I think that combining the two disciplines has groundbreaking potential, and I am convinced that it will lead to meaningful outcomes for any business interested in disrupting its industry and capturing market share.

Published on: Feb 12, 2019
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