Vision leaks and must be refilled

What is one of the most important things for leaders to continually nurture? It might not be the budgets, shareholder presentations, or even stakeholder relationships that your mind immediately goes to. While these are all important, none of it matters if the company doesn’t know what its purpose is or where it is going. Therefore, one of the key things a leader must have in order to lead well is a clear vision that is communicated well – and often.

Last month, we talked about how the power of perspective is one of the most important tools for transforming your outcome as an individual, and how it is crucial to finding fulfillment and purpose in your career. But equally, if not more important, is the power of perspective in leadership and how a leader’s vision and attitude trickles down to transform the outcome of a company as a whole, for better or for worse. You see, as a leader, it is our job to shape the perspectives of those we lead by casting vision for our employees and for our customers. What do we want the company to become, where are we going, who are we serving, and what is our larger mission, are all questions that we should have clearly defined and frequently discussed. This helps to remind our organizations WHY OUR WORK MATTERS!

I often talk about how the weakest organizations have the weakest story for the customer and the weakest story for the employee. In other words, when there is a misguided, disconnected, or non-existent story or vision for the future, employees and customers likely aren’t going to want to be a part of that story. Likewise, average organizations have an average story for the customer and an average story for the organization – nothing bad, but certainly nothing memorable or worth being a part of.

But on the flip side, the greatest organizations have a great brand story that a customer wants to be a part of and a great culture story that an employee wants to be part of. But who is responsible for setting that great story in motion? You guessed it – the leader. As leaders, we are responsible for casting the vision for our organizations, not just once, but continuously. 

Let’s say you’re a leader in an organization and you have plans to kick off the new year strong. You set the vision with an energizing all-hands, you have a hopeful earnings call, and get your staff fired up at a motivating leadership retreat – ensuring that everyone in your company is aligned, excited, and feeling ready to take on the new year. Your employees might feel the spark for a few weeks following, but what happens when the hype dies down?

We all know what it can feel like to pound the proverbial pavement week after week, chipping away at sales goals or drudging through difficult meetings. When things get tough or start to feel monotonous in the office, it can be easy to lose sight of the goal, and employees can start to lose steam. Even in the great organizations with great company stories, vision leaks and must be refilled. 

As a leader, it’s our job to shape the perspectives of those we lead by making the vision a part of everyday life. Through all channels of communication, everyday touchpoints and in meetings big and small, the company vision can be woven in naturally as if it were the essence of the company – because it is. On average, a person must hear something repeated between 7 and 20 times before they actually remember it, so put aside any concerns you may have about being too redundant. You might find that right when you feel uncomfortable sharing your mission again, is right when it’s starting to sink in.

Apart from sheer repetition, sharing the vision in everyday life helps your employees connect whatever they are doing now to why it creates a brighter future for all involved. Part of a leaders’ job is always shaping the perspective, so employees understand how the current context plays a part in the larger picture. When we are able to elevate the perspectives of those we lead by realigning their focus on what is most important, that is how an organization ultimately changes and takes steps forward.

It has often been said that the company culture becomes the lid to which a brand can rise, meaning that the more central the vision and the more exciting the culture is for the employees, the more exciting the brand is for its customers. According to a 2023 report by employer branding agency Universum, companies like Google, Apple, Nike, and Walt Disney are still ranking in the top 20 companies that recent college graduates want to work for, even despite the layoffs and financial difficulties that have challenged many of them this year. Why is that? These are the organizations that have a track record for having a clear vision, an innovative perspective, and a compelling company story that both employees and customers want to be a part of. When a culture is good and a brand is booming, everyone wants in.

I think this quote from author and speaker, Simon Sinek, summarizes it well, “Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.” How true is that? As you head into the new year in just a few short weeks, I implore you to find ways to refill the vision, for yourself and those you lead. Set your sights on the greater purpose, communicate it often, and find ways to continually uplift those around you through a positive perspective.

I’d love to connect with you on social media, you can find me on these platforms:

Together, we can Spark a Revolution of brands more defined by meaning than money, brands that achieve success in a manner that redefines it.

David Salyers
Founder, Spark A Revolution

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