When I have an opportunity to speak to an audience, I like to ask what line of work everyone is in. Then I help them to connect their position or industry or career to some greater meaning.
Most leaders don’t naturally do this. But you have to do it, whether you’re in the lending industry, the auto business, the food service industry or the medical profession — the specific job simply doesn’t matter. As a leader, you need to figure out how your product or service connects to some larger contribution.
That’s why a written Business Vision is a critical piece in leading a team or company.
This document outlines your clearly envisioned future, as author Jim Collins likes to call it. It includes a “vivid description” or “a clear picture.” A Business Vision is a storytelling piece that identifies and crystallizes what you see in the future for your team five, ten, even twenty years from now.
To create a written Business Vision, you have to go beyond the head to reach the heart. That takes hard work. The picture you create has to entice your teammates and pull them toward the greater reality you envision. It has to help them to understand that what they’re doing in their little cubicle is connected to a bigger picture, and that the bigger picture will help others throughout your community and the world.
Regardless of your business, you must identify what need you’re serving that improves this world. You can start by asking yourself:
- How does our product or service help people gain a higher quality of life?
- How does it enable them to operate more efficiently, contribute to their health, improve their outlook or enrich their relationships?
When we see our clients’ first attempt at this part of the document, it’s often a sentence such as:
“We offer great service and our people are the most talented.”
You need to go deeper than that!
Ask questions such as, “What technology are we using? What are people saying? What are our clients saying? What does the office look like?”
I won’t mislead you: this is a very difficult exercise. Most of us don’t feel the freedom to dream in the way I’m recommending. But when you start to define in vivid color what a day will look like for you, you’ll experience a moment of transcendent power.
Your energy and that of your team will shoot through the roof when you’re all able to see what you’re aiming for. Naturally, there will be gaps. You’re not trying to define what your business looks like today; you’re trying to dream what it will look like 10-20 years from now.
Write it, Review it, Repeat it
Vision is not a one-time exercise for leaders. It’s not a one-and-done assignment they complete in order to tell others how they “did the vision thing” back in ’09. Vision is a vital part of who every leader is.
A CEO client I began coaching back in the ’90s taught me two critical lessons about Business Vision: (1) the importance of regularly reviewing it and (2) the value of continually repeating it to others.
By religiously following these two practices, he has gained a tremendous capacity to recruit the right people. His company flourishes today largely because of his commitment to regularly reviewing his Business Vision and to continually repeating it to his team members. Both the reviewing and the repeating are essential to becoming a leader who attracts talent and causes it to blossom.
To these two important principles, I added another: Put it on paper. This makes the original two lessons much easier to accomplish and your Business Vision easier to maximize. If you skip or overlook any of the three, it won’t live up to its full capability. Once you have developed your Business Vision, you must:
- Put it on paper. Write it in concise and clear language so everyone in the organization grasps it, accepts it and acts on it. It must be an easily accessible document.
- Review it continually. Ponder the Business Vision enough so that it goes from your head to your heart. Know it by heart and let it imprint your soul. Make sure the contents of this vital tool live and breathe in your mind.
- Repeat it continually. You and your team should be in the habit of speaking the words in your Business Vision frequently and enthusiastically around the office. People should know that this document shapes every aspect of your business.
Business Vision Starts Here, Now
Regardless of where your Business Vision is today, our team would love to hear from you.
Which of the statements below do you most closely identify with?
- My Business Vision mostly lives in my head. I haven’t had a chance to get it on paper nor do I think about it often. This free resource should help you get that Business Vision on paper and headed in the right direction.
- My Business Vision is written down, and I refer to it for making important decisions. However, my team doesn’t seem to really grasp where our organization is trying to go. Check out our Vision Communication Tool. It’s a free resource that serves as a guide for communicating your Business Vision to your team and organization.
- I have a Business Vision, but I haven’t adjusted it in a while and I’m not sure it’s still relevant to the work my team and I are doing today. Use our Business Vision Review Tool to review and revise your convictions, purpose and compelling ambitions.
- My Business Vision is strong and an integral part of how I lead my team on a daily basis. That’s great! Remember that your Business Vision isn’t static and may change over time. Mark time on your calendar to review it a year from now to ensure that it continues to drive you and your team forward.
If you need help creating, communicating or executing your vision, our team of Executive Coaches can guide you through the process one-on-one, facilitate an executive retreat or collaborate with you to plan a private off-site vision communication event for your team.