To Lead… and Beyond!
Buzz Lightyear might not be the obvious choice of great leaders but we’re taking inspiration from his famous catchphrase in this article to encourage you to think big and define the vision for your organisation or team.
Why do you need to do this?
Well, most people need a reason to get up and get busy with work every day. Right now, it’s probably a short shuffle from bedroom to desk/kitchen table for many, but beyond earning a salary we need to have a sense of what we’re working for. Sure, work gets done, tasks get ticked off, meetings are held, but what if you could ignite a greater passion in your people that led to better engagement and increased performance?
Defining a vision is about painting a vivid picture of the future
It’s about possibilities, potential and opportunities that lift people out of the day to day and inspire them to what might be. A vision can give purpose and direction to everyone in the organisation and the more you can tell the story of your vision and why it matters, the more people will be motivated to deliver work above and beyond the norm.
If you can connect the work an individual does directly to the vision then you’ll see performance and markers of engagement such as discretionary effort increase exponentially.
A word of caution here: you might be tempted to define your vision solely in financial terms - after all, we live in a capitalist society. However, if you are to see any real benefit in defining a vision then you need to go beyond the obvious ‘make money’ and really consider why you exist as an organisation. The events of 2020 have shown us the need to have a more powerful and enduring purpose other than just making money. As our workforce gets younger they are looking for meaning, for something they can believe in and put their time and energy into. Check out HBR’s article on creating a purpose-driven organisation and Simon Sinek’s work on Start With Why for more on this.
Here are our suggestions on how to approach defining your vision (statement) and selling the story in your organisation:
- Boldly imagine where you want your team/business to be in the future - you can determine the timeframe but make sure it’s positive, no-one wants to work towards a darker future. Imagine you’re watching a video of your future business – what’s going on, what are people saying about it?
- Ask yourself why it matters – get to the heart of things, the real purpose. Don’t just make it about the money.
- Do a sense check – does it align with your values? Is it compatible with the wider organisation? Is it achievable with effort? It needs to inspire and feel authentic.
- Refine it - you’ll want everyone to know it and remember it so make sure it’s simple and easy to understand/repeat.
- Make it visible – get your vision out and flowing through everything you do as a business. Tell the story behind it so people understand the what and the why of your vision.
The best way of doing this is to engage others in the process. If you lead a team, get them together for a session on building the vision so they can get excited about it too. If you’re working for yourself, check in with your network or community to test your ideas out.
Of course, having a vision is pointless if you’re not actively striving towards achieving it. That’s where your strategy and plans come into play. In simple terms, your strategy is the direction you take and the decisions you make to achieve your vision, and your plans or roadmaps are the activities you need to do to deliver on that. Right now, you may need to revisit these and see if they’re still relevant. For many, plans, if not strategies, are shifting and responding to the uncertainty that 2020 is throwing at us. You may need to rework your plans right now – as Missy Elliot said “I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it” – and set shorter-term goals so you can flex and adapt to challenge and change.
People want to be able to connect with the purpose of the business, but they also need to know what to work on in the next two weeks.
Make sure you can zoom in and out on your organisation or team – stepping back, reprioritising, and communicating regularly, keeping that vision, that North Star, as a place to come back to that says ‘this is why we do what we do’.
While it may seem like a luxury when you have so much to do, taking time to step out of the busyness to work on your business is essential if you’re going to grow and scale your enterprise. At The Hustle House we’ve worked with organisations at some of their busiest times to create the space to work on their vision and planning. It’s led to invigorated teams, renewed focus and increased levels of engagement and performance so we know it makes a difference.
When will you make the time to craft your vision? It might not take you beyond infinity, but it might make your business skyrocket.
If you need help delegating work to others so you can focus on your vision, check out our new How to Delegate Like a Pro Masterclass Series on our website. If you would love some help in defining your vision and getting everyone on board with it, get in touch with us – firstname.lastname@example.org .