Have you ever played a board game with friends, only to have people quibble over the rules midway through the game? See, it may feel as if you’re on the same page, but if it comes to a point where your mutual understandings of the game fall apart, the game is impossible to complete.
The same idea applies in terms of your business. If you assume that everyone understands the rules of the game, or the vision you have for progression, things may seem to be going fine. But then, inevitably, something will happen. Someone will be unsure of the goal, or the path to get there. This is where a firmly and clearly articulated vision comes into play.
As is clear by this point, you ought to know personally what your vision is. But, of course, you may need help in building out that vision. It may not be obvious or apparent to you. That’s perfectly natural.
The first step with finding and developing your vision is to narrow it. It needs to be rather specific, and achievable. “Making the world a better place” is as noble as any vision statement, but it doesn’t seem like something you alone could achieve, and, apart from that, there’s no clear path to achieving it. Be realistic, but bold. It may sound somewhat like an oxymoron, but your vision really ought to be the most you can reasonably expect to achieve. Otherwise, your vision isn’t aiming high enough.
Another aspect to consider is whether you have crafted your vision in terms that are concrete. This is a subtle but important change, and it’s not entirely removed from the concept of a mindset shift that I cover in my last book, Unleashing Your Superpower. When conveying your vision, be sure to use specific language, not abstract. Truly describe the goals and how you expect to reach them.
For example, which makes more sense in terms of really understanding the goal? 1, We will lead the market in production; or 2, We will become the preeminent supplier of this product, overtaking competitors while maintaining outstanding quality. The same message is being conveyed, but the second option adds meat to it and makes clear that the goal is more than just making money; it’s about maintaining the work ethic and quality that brought your business to this point.
Concrete language, focused on a narrow message, are two vital ways to improve your vision statement and to ensure everyone buys in. And having a shared resolve among your team is indispensable. There’s a difference between a vision and a shared vision. As a successful leader, you want to have the latter. It isn’t enough to lead with the rest of your team blindfolded; ensure they understand the goal, and that there are clear benchmarks along the way so everyone can stay on track and measure progress.
A good leader doesn’t just lead, either; they listen. Be sure to solicit feedback from your team at all points, but particularly when moving in a new direction. Some folks will be less apt to speak up if they have questions or concerns, but by providing that opportunity, they may be more inclined to speak. Just because someone doesn’t tell you they have an issue, doesn’t mean that are completely fine or on-board. Take time to address concerns.
I like to think back on this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up men to gather wood, give orders,
and divide the work. Rather, teach them to yearn for the far and endless sea.”
Remember: everything isn’t about you. If you can focus on the win for your team, and how change can be a good thing for them, they’ll join you on the journey without issue.
You also want to remember that everyone in the digital age has fifty things pulling their attention in fifty different directions. Make your message short and sweet. Take, for example, IKEA’s: “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people.” That’s it, but it captures everything about their organization, and every member of their business could understand and recite it if needed. It’s also obvious to every person involved how their individual role impacts the mission, be it as a customer-facing clerk or as the Chief Financial Officer; the goal remains the same.
Take these suggestions and begin thinking about how your vision statement might look, and how to make it narrow, concrete, and easy for your team to remember. This isn’t everything you’ll need to perfect your vision statement, but it should be a groundwork upon which we can build.