Ever heard this saying?
When it comes to breakfast, chickens are involved but pigs are fully committed.
So what’s the business connection there? For leaders to maximize success, they need to communicate their Vision in a way that powerfully moves team members from “involvement” to a level of all-in, heart-and-soul commitment that can fuel off-the-charts achievements. In other words, great Visions inspire teams to put their bacon on the line.
As you might guess, many professionals who get top ratings on a variety of leadership core competencies fall short when it comes to Vision. They sometimes claim to be laser-focused on reaching business goals and don’t have time for “that whole Vision-Mission thing.”
What’s wrong with that?
Defining a Vision isn’t an optional exercise; it’s essential for success. Without it, teams can’t fully get on board to support their leaders. Every team member needs to understand how their individual jobs connect to the big picture. Whether they are in Finance, Sales or Manufacturing, the ability to visualize how their personal contributions matter in the larger scope of things is directly related to their passion in reaching a team goal.
Think for a moment about the people on your team. Are they committed? Or just involved? If it’s the latter, perhaps your Vision isn’t igniting the fires of teamwork as much as it could.
How can we generate real commitment?
Simply having a Vision isn’t enough; it’s vital to communicate it effectively. It doesn’t have to be catchy, but it has to be more than facts and data. A strong, clear Vision tugs at hearts and creates an emotional connection. It unites a team in moving forward to meet a shared goal. And perhaps most importantly, it answers the right question. Let me explain.
Managers are usually good about telling us what to do and how to do it. If they are really good, they ask for our recommendations about what to do and how. But great leaders answer the question of Why.
Why do we need to alter our products?
Why do we need to change our process?
Why do we need to deliver our services faster?
Why do we need to adjust our patient care strategy?
When we start with Why, we communicate the fundamental reason behind a change. That information can be critical, since achieving a Vision may involve completely altering job descriptions, responsibilities, reporting structures and even physical work locations. Without explaining Why, our chances of getting buy-in across the board are extremely small.
Three times this week, I heard from leaders I coach who attribute their success in driving change to answering Why. Their teams wanted to understand the contributing factors behind an initiative. The consequences of failing to take action. The impact of getting too comfortable with the status quo. Explaining Why helped them look at the big-picture context of their individual contributions.
If we don’t re-engineer our product to better suit our customers’ needs, we will become obsolete.
If we don’t quickly change our packaging to comply with new regulations, we will lose our shelf space in the retail stores.
If we don’t improve our customer service to increase loyalty, we will lose market share to our competitors.
Author Simon Sinek discusses this topic in his book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Sinek created a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership based on the idea of a Golden Circle, demonstrating what he calls, “a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.” And if you want to know more about the value of Why, check out his TED talk on the subject: here.
With these facts in mind, take a fresh look at the Vision for your team or organization. Is it clear and compelling? Does it elicit an emotional response? Does everyone understand Why? When a Vision meets those criteria, leaders can use it to drive objectives and strategies, reinforcing the behavior change needed to sustain it. Best of all, a smartly crafted, clearly communicated Vision has the power to shift your team members from “involved” to “fully committed”—and that’s what generates exceptional results.
Has a strong Vision fueled your team to achieve great things? I’d love to hear your success stories.
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