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Leadership, Mission and Purpose

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Leading in any context is vital for the survival of organizations. How far an organization can stretch is mostly dependent on the leadership in place. This term paper examines leadership in the context of vision, purpose and mission. These three terms comprehensively defines the duties of a leader. This paper will identify the key concepts associated with these terms and the various views which have been aired in relation to these terms by various theorists. The term paper will tie the discussion down to show the implications of these values on church congregation leadership. 


Vision, purpose and mission are very crucial to the leadership of any organization. These terms determines the very existence of an organization. They are interrelated and somehow depend on each other. Any of them cannot exist individually. Having a vision implies one has a purpose and if there is a purpose then there is a mission. To best bring out the relationship in all these three terms it is imperative that their definition is explored. According to Stein and Bathurst (2008) mission and purpose are tied down to the same thing. They view them as just statement which point out why an organization exists. These two will give the reasons why a given organization should exist or rather it can be simply be said to be the justification of an organization.  Stein and Bathurst (2008) further argued that the mission is used in carrying out the vision of an organization. This implies that the vision is greater than the mission. The authors define vision as “leadership’s picture how things will be or can be in the future”. Therefore a vision is a picture of something which has not been achieved but one that is hoped to be achieved.

Stein and Bathurst (2008) yet gave another definition as was aired by the executive director of the Mark Morris Dance Group; “the mission is the stated purpose of the organization, the reason for its existence”.  Therefore a vision is core to the very existence of an organization. It is the destination of an organization and can be said to be the one which keeps the organization running in the right course. It is clear then that without a vision the organization will have no sense of direction. If an organization has no vision then it does not have a destination where it is headed to. For a vision to be achieved, mission and purpose have to come in to make it possible. The purpose and mission of an organization can be viewed as paths to achieving the vision of an organization; they are the building blocks of the vision implying that they are as important as important as the vision. There are other factors such organizational strategy which is important as they the means of uniting the mission with the purpose in pursuit of an organizational vision. It is important to note the term organization in this context has been used in an abstract manner creating allowance for any form of grouping. It is true that for any form of grouping without vision, mission and purpose it becomes hard for that group to have a sense of direction. The following section makes an attempt to examine why these terms are so important to any social grouping.

Why create a vision

Creation of a vision for an organization is the core of leadership of any organization. For a leader of any organization it is imperative that he/she should create a vision for a group that he/she is leading. Without a vision the leadership becomes null and void because there is no journey to be travelled and hence no need for a guide. Manning and Curtis (2002) makes an attempt to show the importance of having or rather creating a vision for an organization. They argued that a vision is more of a unifying factor for an organization. By taking the example of modern business organizations which have various experts engaged in different activities, the authors show that without a vision it is possible for the various partners in an organization to engage in different activities who end result produce what does not converge. By creating a vision it becomes possible for all the partners in an organization to engage in different activities separately but which at last achieve the same objective. Through a vision it becomes possible for an organization to become single minded thus unifying the organization. Manning and Curtis (2002) have argued that without a vision the members of an organization are likely to implement their own goals on the organization which will bring will bring about confusion; “members are likely to follow their own speciality rather than apply it to the common task, the authors further argued that, the members are likely come up with individual results which will be based on their speciality”.

Manning and Curtis (2002) have gone to great lengths to show the relationship between being visionary and attaining success. By the fact that having an organizational vision makes it possible to have a single mind in an organization then it is easy to reconcile the fact that a vision will enhance the success of an organization. Many examples are given to show that the having a vision makes it possible for success to be attained. From fortune 500 companies to the ancient empires (Greece, Roman empires etc) it has been demonstrated that having a vision creates paths to attaining success somehow. The authors quoted psychologist Benjamin Singer who has showed that children with vision are energised and focused. Being energized and focussed makes it possible to pursue a vision. This is what leads organizations to success when they have a vision.

It has been argued out above that a vision creates unity in an organization. This process of unity creation through a vision is not however not possible without a leader. A leader creates a vision for an organization and has a duty to ensure that the vision finds a general acceptance as this will make it possible for the various partners to an organization to uniformly join efforts for the common benefits. Manning and Curtis (2002) have come up with requirements of an effective vision. These authors have made the following claims in reference to effective visions:

Vision development

We have discussed above that for any organization to flourish it must be anchored upon a vision. We have also seen that a vision is developed by a leader. It has been argued above that a vision unites the partners in an organization; it has also be seen that for this to be possible then the leader must sell the vision to the rest of the organizational members. This will make it possible for the vision to have a general acceptance. For the vision to have a general acceptance among the members of an organization the person selling the vision must be in a position to make a proper sale. For a vision to be general accepted the leader should have the strength and influence to mobilize the rest of the parties. The implementation of a vision greatly depends on the leader. It should be noted that strong leadership is imperative for the achievement of a vision. Therefore the first and foremost requirement for a vision to be effect is the presence of effective leadership which has the will power to make the implementation of the vision.

Selling the vision

Apart from creating a vision there is a need for proper selling to be implemented. This is mainly done through communicating the vision to the other members of the organization. Leaders have the duty of ensuring that the followers have a taste of the vision; they should ensure that they communicate to the followers in a way that will make the followers see, hear, touch, test and see their vision. Manning and Curtis (2002) in illustrating this gave the example of a general and his soldiers. If the general has any idea in his mind it is just an idea and not a vision until he communicates the idea to his soldiers. A good general will explain his ideas to his soldiers in such a manner that the soldiers will understand and adopt the idea. At such a level then the idea turns out to be a vision and the soldiers’ feet and hands become activated to implement the vision.

It is a similar case for church leadership. This is especially the case when a church leadership is in need of launching a new ministry. The church leaders need to understand that for the followers to fully make their contribution towards any new ministries which are launched then they first need to buy the idea from the leaders. Church leaders have a duty in this context to ensure that they convince the congregation of the need of a new ministry and what it will achieve. The church leadership will have to fully explain the vision in a manner that all the members will understand. The leadership has a duty to show the vision will be achieved as explained in the following section.

Flexibility of the vision

Depending on the organization in question, the vision created should be flexible enough to be adopted by the various members of the organization. This should be especially the case when the organization involved is a complex one. It is upon the leader to detail the vision in such a manner that every person in the organization gets to understand his/her role in ensuring that the vision is achieved. This can be said to be similar to division of labour in business terms where work is subdivided into pieces of works with different individuals participating in different parts but with the same target of making production a possibility.

It should be noted that this very well applies in the church organizations. A congregational leader in a church setting whether a pastor, an evangelist or at any level of authority ought to ensure that the vision being pursued by that particular group is detailed to the extent of allowing the various members in the congregation to have a part to play in achieving the vision. This is vital taking into consideration in a church setting individuals are gifted differently. The ability to ensure that the different gifts availed by the congregation are put into use in order for the vision to be realized is important. Detailing the vision makes it possible for all the members of an organization to take part in making a contribution towards the achievement of the same and this brings about unity which is emphasized in religious teachings.

A worthy vision

It is possible that all the above can be done and yet it turns out that the vision does not gather enough support. This may happen for cases where the vision is not uplifting and inspiring and therefore does not draw any enthusiasm from the followers. A vision should be worth the effort. The vision of an organization should be something that followers are proud of and one that has a special attachment to them. In a church leadership setting, a vision should not contradict the value of the members but rather enhance them. The leadership should ensure that member find something worth in pursuing the vision. If a vision is worth then it will relatively easy for the members to adopt and start implementing it.

A good section of this paper has discussed the vision. This is important because a formulating a vision is usually the first thing accomplished when a leader is coming with a group or an organization. After a vision is created it becomes possible for the mission and purpose to be formulated.  The following section examines the concepts of mission and purpose.

Purpose and Mission

These are different terms with totally different implications though more often than not they are used interchangeably. According to Young and Hester (2004), mission is said to the events, the actions and the projects which are carried out by an organization. Purpose is seen as a defining factor of what/who an organization is. Ellsworth (2002) views purpose as the central to a corporate body. Stocker (2006) gave a broad and comprehensive definition of purpose. He said that purpose is the mission of a given body. He further defined this in bracket as the reason why a body exists. A purpose therefore can said to be the reason that brought a body not existence. What the body wish to accomplish in its existence is the purpose of that body. This implies that a body can only be formed when there is a purpose. Mission are the activities that the body engages in as it attempts to meet its purpose. In carrying the missions of a body its purposes are met and this makes it possible for a body to achieve its vision. Just like the case of a vision, the purpose holds a body together as discussed below.

Stocker (2006) argued that, “a clear and unchanging purpose becomes the glue that holds the organization together”.  He justified this by claiming that since an organization has many experts there is a likelihood that without a clear purpose there is a likelihood that each of the various partners in an organization will tend to view the organization from his/her point of view. The points of view are not likely to have any unit as they will emanate from people of different philosophies. This will tear apart the organization. Edwards Deming is quoted in reference to this as claiming that, “left to themselves .... components become selfish, competitive, independent profit centres, and thus destroy the system”. Illustrations of profit centres are given in the form of a manufacturing department that is focussed on dollar shipped instead of the customer commitment, another illustration is that of sales people making commitment which the company will not be in a position to meet, purchasing agents who buy very cheap raw materials without paying due attention how they will affect the finished products in terms of quality.   These pulling are likely to come in if the purpose of a company is not clear. Therefore purpose glues together the various departments of an organization and ensures that whatever their duties and roles are they are streamlined to fit into one purpose.

It should be noted as the discussion as ensued from above the purpose and mission applies literary to any group. In reference to the church leadership, purpose is quite important for the unity of the church members. Church leadership ought to ensure that a church organization has a purpose. The various committee and sub-committee which are famous with church organization also ought to be led by clear purposes. This will make it possible for the various groups in the church to be successfully in attaining their visions. It is significant for church leaders to come up with purposes which are in line with the values of their followers as this will make it possible for the followers to carry out the purpose with great ease. According to Stocker (2006) people will give out their best if they feel that the purpose they are pursuing is in line with what they believe.


Vision, mission and purpose are very important when in the context of organizational leadership. These words show why an organization and what its aims are. Vision in the destination of an organization and more often than not the leader of an organization bores the vision of an organization. The purpose of an organization is the reason why an organization exists. The purpose of an organization is the reason why an organization was created. The mission of an organization is the set of events or activities that are carried out by the organization in order to meet the purpose of the organization. The mission and the purpose of the organization push the organization towards achieving its vision. For any organization to flourish well it must have a vision. For a vision to be achieved it is important that a leader of an organization comes up with purpose of an organization. It should be noted that purpose and vision are formed before an organization starts to exist.

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