The Importance of a Vision
One of the most important jobs of the leader is keeping the vision in front of the team.
And ironically, the more experienced the leader becomes, the less effective they are at putting the vision in front of the team.
They forget how important it is since it seems so fundamental to them.
Many times, successful leaders are great at naturally seeing the vision. They assume everyone else does and that is not true.
Most people suck at vision.
Most people are not good at seeing the big picture and are not good at breaking it down.
What happens is the leader, who is good at being the leader, takes it for granted how important the vision is. They assume everyone knows it, so they stopped putting it in front of the team.
This is one of the most fundamental, simplest reasons why teams start to implode and head backward.
It’s because the leader isn’t putting the vision in front of the team.
This is something that you must do repeatedly.
You should almost be sick of doing it. It should feel somewhat obnoxious to you on how much you’re doing it, talking about the vision since this is where people need help.
They need the context of the big picture.
Even though you might know it, they don’t and they forget it.
One of the most powerful exercises that we have ever done is something called the team mantra. This is an exercise that you should do as a team with yourselves.
In our last business that we sold a couple of years ago, we started in 2006 and by the year 2009, we grew fast to seven figures. We hit seven figures in our first year and three years later, we stayed where we were.
And I remember when one of the newest people on our team, Joe, said in the middle of the team meeting. He asked the questions of what are we doing here and what was our big picture? Why are we in this business and what are we after? What are we trying to accomplish as a team?
For me, it was one of the most embarrassing moments in my career as a leader, realizing that Joe, a new, young, hungry, ambitious person who had been with us six months, had no idea what the vision was. All he had been taught was a bunch of systems, processes, and tactical steps on what to say and how to manage his day, etc.
We had completely missed this core component of translating the big picture.
To be honest, I didn’t know what the big picture was either.
The truth is, the reason it wasn’t clear to everyone else was it wasn’t clear to me. I hadn’t sat down and mapped out what it was going to look like.
How do I Create a Team Mantra?
There are two parts to this. There is the number part. Being a numbers person, I always did a decent job of forecasting revenue and the number of people in our company.
Then there is the principles part of it such as what is the purpose that this team exists? What are we doing? Why are we in this business?
On that day, we stopped what we were doing, turned on a tape recorder, and asked the question of what are we doing?
We asked all these questions.
Why are we in this business?
How will we know when we’ve been successful?
What do we want people to know about the way we do business that’s different from everybody else?
What are things we know to be true about how we’re going to do business?
What are things that we will never do?
Who is it that we want to become?
We just asked all these open-ended questions to the team, and they dumped all these answers out.
Then we got them transcribed. After the transcription, we edited it down all to fit on one page. Then we started reading that page at the start of every single meeting from that year forward.
Importance of a Shared Vision
We had been stagnant for those three years, yet for each of the next three years, we doubled every year.
Was that the only reason? Probably not, but was it a huge reason? Absolutely.
Not only did we double in terms of production, but the culture, the retention, the buy-in, the commitment, the intensity that people are working with doubled. They knew what they were working to.
This is just such a simple and powerful exercise.
Gather some of your senior leaders together and ask the following questions:
What’s the goal of our team?
What do people think of when they think of us?
How do we want our team to be remembered?
What can people always count on us to do?
What can people count on us to never do?
Do you see the theme?
All these questions are just to get people talking and are meant to lead us towards the discovery of the principles that we believe in and operate in.
What are things we don’t allow to stand in our way?
Why are we in this business?
What is absolutely true about the way that we do business?
What is different about doing business with us versus other people or other companies?
What do we provide to the people who do business with us?
How will we impact people who are not even our customers? That’s a really great one. For the people who just interfaced with you but they don’t even buy, how are we positively impacting those people?
How will we know when we’ve done a job well done?
Just answer these questions.
What’s so powerful about this is that if you put these in front of your team to answer instead of doing yourself, they’ll come up with answers that are even better than the things that you would say. They buy into it more because they came up with it and not you.
It is this rallying and unifying situation.
Yet there are so many people in almost every organization that have no idea. They know what the company does. They know what their company products are and they know what they do, but they are not connected explicitly to why they do it.
It’s not enough for people to know what you do. They must know why you do it.
It must be explicit, clear, and frequent. You can hardly do this too much. People never get tired of reading it because it is the fabric of who we are and why we do it.
People never get tired of hearing about the mission and the purpose behind the organization and behind the team.
Do you have a team mantra for your company? Has it changed your company culture? Let me know in the comments below!