Leaders are limited by their vision rather than by their abilities.” - Roy T. Bennett
The word “vision” has been a feature of corporate culture jargon for years as a key ingredient in achieving positive growth and extraordinary results.
So why is the concept of creating a vision and the cultural values that drive its pursuance, still often misunderstood and/or unsuccessfully executed, particularly in startups?
Workplace culture support company Rungway, surveyed 2,000 UK employees on their attitude to work. The research showed that more than half (52%) of employees in the UK can’t recite their organization’s vision, and nearly half (49%) can’t recite their organization’s values.
The inability of employees to recite or align to their organization’s vision and values can lead to a lack of engagement, motivation and therefore productivity.
A clear, compelling organizational vision is the foundation for a strong workplace culture. It the “why” of the company, and countless studies have shown that a person’s why, or sense of purpose, is the strongest and most sustainable driver of human motivation, especially when the going gets tough.
Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl studied human motivational factors while held prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, during the Holocaust of World War II. In his 1946 book Man’s Search For Meaning his findings showed that regardless of age or physical stature, the men with a greater sense of purpose in their lives showed the most resilience, and hence lived the longest or even survived.
The Essential Practice Of Vision Setting
Aligning a company’s vision and values with those of the individual employees will enhance motivation, leading to greater overall performance and employee retention.
But how can an organization effectively design a clear, compelling vision statement that will inspire and motivate each employee to make sacrifices, work hard, work efficiently, and enjoying doing so?
At Winning EQ, here are four steps we recommend:
Firstly, understand the difference between “vision” and “mission”. If vision is the “why”, then mission is the “what”. The vision gives a company or individual a grand idea of what is possible, describing where they want themselves, the community, or the world, to be as a result of the company's efforts.
A mission states what work is already being done, what goals are already being met, the problems that are being solved and the product or service that solves them.
It is important that each employee is involved in the vision setting process. This leads to a greater sense of empowerment, and they are more likely to feel connected to that vision, taking ownership of whatever is necessary to achieve it. The values can be viewed as the “who” a company or individual is, or in other words, the character needed to materialize a vision.
When considering a powerful, compelling vision, ask questions like:
· Where are we going?
· What is important to us?
· What positive change will we effect on the world?
· What outcome is worth sacrificing for?
For an historic example of a compelling vision, one need only turn to Martin Luther King Jnr’s famous quote:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Another somewhat extreme, yet undeniably impactful example of a clear, compelling vision is when Winston Churchill addressed his nation, laying plans to protect Great Britain’s freedom, and abolish Adolf Hitler’s reign of human destruction:
“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival”.
Now it’s time to narrow down everyone’s input and achieve alignment on a simple, impactful vision that accurately encompasses what is important for the company and its individuals.
This process will require effective communication and decision making, facilitated by the company’s more recognized leaders, and/or a third party consultant.
An example of a clear, concise and compelling company vision is that of Teach For America:
“One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education”.
Once a clear, compelling vision has been established, it is vital that the vision is seen and heard as much as possible. Constant efforts to establish a connection with the vision should be made, especially as a company grows. It can be challenging to have new employees connect to the company vision and values the same way as the early adopters, so be creative, intentional and consistent when doing so.
During the onboarding process of new employees at the rapidly expanding e-commerce company Feedonomics, the CEO Shawn Lipman conducts a 60 minute workshop on the company vision and values, and regular company wide “company values expression sessions” facilitated by the employees themselves.
Set the tone now for a successful 2020
The new year is already here, and now is the perfect time to revisit and possibly redesign your company vision, and how well your employees are connecting to it.
Invest in a leadership consulting firm like Winning EQ to facilitate a comprehensive organizational health check, followed by a vision setting session.
There is also an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and inspiration on the power of vision setting, and other game-changing leadership topics at the LA Workplace Summit on January 23rd. Simply click HERE for tickets and info and be sure to sign up with your team now to avoid disappointment, because places are limited.