Leadership: The Importance of Visioning

Drs. Sheila Boysen, Lesley Page and Michael Cherry

The ultimate goal of a clear sense of purpose is to release the energy and momentum that moves us forward. 

But what causes the momentum? 

One of the most helpful ways to think about this is to use the analogy of the rubber band.

The Rubber Band

The rubber band is stretched between two extremes.  At one end is the current reality.  The current reality represents an honest, open and shared version of how things really are.  A rich current reality will include not only the results we want to change, but also the behaviors and attitudes that have contributed to creating them in the past. 

The other end of the rubber band is the vision. This is the exciting sense of future and possibilities.  This is not someone else’s well-crafted statement.  Instead, this referrers to a vision that is directly connected, to you, and to your own sense of values and possibility (Fritz, R. 1989)

The idea behind the rubber band analogy is simple: If there is a gap between the current reality and the vision it creates energy.  This is the momentum for which we are looking. 

Therefore, if the current reality and the vision are too close together the energy is much lower and that may not create the needed momentum.

Equally if they are too far apart the rubber band will snap, and then the vision feels unreachable, and no energy is unleashed.

And of course, both ends need to be firm.  If either is missing the band is floppy and there is no energy.  This is often the case where aspirational visions are created without a clear and shared commitment to the current reality.

Vision and Change

The art in being a good leader of change is in creating the right amount of tension in the rubber band for the whole team or organization.  This means helping others to build their own sense of current reality and of vision.

Both ends can be challenging but for different reasons.  The process of building consensus around current reality can be quite confronting, as each individual needs to look for their part in the problem.

And of course, a current reality on its own does not create the momentum unless we can inspire others to find their own visions for a different future.


Fritz, R. 1989. The Path of Least Resistance. New York: Fawcett Columbine.

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