This is the fifth in a long series of posts that will teach and explain The 6 Perspectives of Leadership™.
Find the other parts to this series HERE.
This series will lead up to a book-launch planned for the fall of 2018 for my upcoming book “The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership.”
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That article made a case for the critical nature of leading with vision. It also described what you will do with the vision and your responsibility to it when it already exists; however, it did not explain how to create your vision.
That’s what this article will do.
Of the six perspectives (vision, strategy, enabling, support, protecting, empowering) leading from the front with vision is the most esoteric and artful. It can be more heart than logic and is even allowed to be altruistic or a bit “pie in the sky.” But it must be backed with a deep conviction that will drive you as a leader even in the most trying of times.
Building a Vision that Works
Leaders must have a clear and compelling vision that guides them. To create a vision that compels you to act effectively, a few elements need to be balanced and considered in the vision:
· Is it personally meaningful to those doing the work?
· Is it achievable?
· It is positively impactful to the right people?
One could make the case for more than this, but this is where one should start creating a vision.
Let’s run a thought experiment here. What would happen if a company leader came up with a vision that only met two of the three elements?
1) Achievable, meaningful, but not impactful? – Answer: In this scenario, no one would feel that the organization is making a difference. The customers or clients would experience nothing that would bring them back. This organization is closing its doors pretty quickly.
2) Meaningful, impactful, but not achievable? Answer: In this scenario… well, it’s self-explanatory. This organization will fail at its attempt.
3) Achievable, impactful, but not meaningful? Answer: This is a recipe for burnout, churn, turnover, and a spirit-crushing environment. Without the internal motivation of doing something meaningful, most people give up and quit, or if they stay, they tend to become disheartened and disgruntled. Who can blame them? They feel trapped doing something that doesn’t mean anything to them.
It’s clear that for a vision to be compelling and sustainable, all three elements must be present.
What does having a clear and compelling vision look like?
The most recognizable way that a person or organization is working with vision, is that they have a vision statement and a mission statement. An organization can survive without them, if there is a universally understood “purpose” that a strong leader talks about consistently; but having a defined vision statement and mission statement makes it much easier to lead with vision.
For clarification, a vision statement and a mission statement are two different things.
· A vision statement describes results. It describes what an organization wants to achieve.
· A mission statement describes what the organization will do to achieve the vision.
Zappos.com, which describes itself as “a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes, clothing, and accessories” (Tony Hsieh, CEO) has created excellent examples of vision and mission statements.
Zappos Vision Statement – “Delivering happiness to customers, employees, and vendors.” Here, the result is that their intended target is happy. This is a thing that is to be achieved.
Zappos Mission Statement – “Provide the best customer service possible. Deliver WOW through service.” Here, they’ve created a mission that achieves the vision. Achieve happy customers, employees, and vendors, through the action of delivering the best customer service possible.
Because of this vision and mission, Zappos does a few things a little differently than other companies. For example, in a speech delivered at Vator Splash, CEO Tony Hsieh shares that:
· Unlike most companies with a customer service call center, Zappos does not measure how many people each customer service agent serves in a day or a week, it only measures whether the agents spend at least 80% of their time helping customers. It doesn’t matter if a whole work day is spent on fifty customers, or just one customer, as long as they are helping the customer, they meet the measurement.
· Unlike most companies with a call center, their call center agents do not work from scripts. Every engagement must be organic, natural and unique to each individual customer.
· At the end of the first week of new hire orientation, all new employees are offered $2000 to quit. Why? To weed out anyone who may not be a good cultural fit. It used to be $1000. They increased it because there weren’t enough new hires who were taking them up on the offer.
· Tony Hsieh, the CEO, gave a customer service award to a call center employee who spent 6 hours on the phone with one customer who didn’t buy anything. The customer simply was lonely and wanted someone to talk to.
· During the holiday selling season, all employees including those in the C suite, become call center agents. If all front-line agents are on the phone with customers, the line rings through to the executives who then fulfill call-center functions. Why? Because the customer being happy is the vision, therefore, answering a phone is more important than the title of CFO or CEO.
The key here is that Zappos uses their vision and mission statements as a guide for decision making.
When designing the culture at Zappos, they constantly ask if what they are doing aligns with the vision and mission. That’s why they do things differently than other companies that might look like them on the outside. A lot of companies sell shoes online, but only at Zappos will you find their CEO jumping on the phone to help you return the wrong size Chuck Taylors and then make sure that the right size gets sent to the right address, at the right time, and fully process the order for you. Again, why? Because if you are committing to delivering the very best customer service, then a CEO is going to have to get on the phone if a customer is waiting for help.
So how do you create your vision?
Creating vision and mission statements are a common business activity and many excellent resources exist to help with this.
When I do consulting work, here is what I do to help organizations build their vision and mission statements.
1. Spend time and energy answering these questions from a global or community level perspective:
- What things are important to me/us?
- How would I/we like to spend my/our time?
- What difference would I/we like to make in our community?
- What talents and skills do I/we have?
- What needs to be done that aligns with the above that I/we might be able to do?
2. Take these answers and look for themes and trends – coalesce around what feels most meaningful, achievable, and impactful. Decide if you want this to be your vision and mission, then…
3. Describe the thing that’s most meaningful, achievable, and impactful in simple and clear terms.
From a 30,000-foot view, that’s all there is to it. Earlier in this article, leading with vision was described as the most esoteric and “pie in the sky” perspective. Vision is where leaders can dream a little. Putting it into words is where the art comes in. In the end, it must feel compelling to the leader.
Let’s look at that 3-step vision statement building process in action. I’ll use my own business, Derek Rey Consulting, as the subject here.
1. Answer the referenced questions:
- …important to me…? A: Writing, spending time with my family, people being happy and successful at work (this last one comes from my own life experiences, both positive and negative.)
- …spend my time…? A: I’d like to spend my time writing, coaching leaders to succeed, running team development workshops, delivering speeches that inspire and excite audiences. Spend more time with my wife and children.
- …difference in my community…? A: I’m a believer in the value of small business and entrepreneurship. I would like to give small business owners and entrepreneurs in my community the people-skills to build rewarding workplaces where their people feel and are valued and are treated well. More happy and supported employees will mean a healthier small business community where I live. I also want young people in our community to believe they can achieve their professional dreams.
- …talents and skills…? A: I can write fairly well. I am a seasoned and skilled public speaker. I have an uncommon talent for facilitating engaging workshops for teams and organizations. I have experience and skill coaching people one-on-one to reasonably help them overcome obstacles at work.
- …needs to be done…? A: Training and coaching around leadership development, team development, and workplace culture development needs to be accessible in my community and known and leveraged as a resource in my community. I have these abilities.
2. From what I said above, what is meaningful to me, achievable, and impactful to my community?
- Answer: I can create a consulting business that focuses on building happy and successful workplaces through my skills of public speaking, coaching, consulting, workshop facilitating, and writing. Do I want to do this? YES YES YES YES YES!!!!
3. Derek Rey Consulting’s actual vision statement: Building Leaders and Teams that Achieve More, Achieve Faster, and Achieve Happier.
Now that I have this vision statement, what do I do with it? It guides my decision making. Here are some decisions I’ve made under the guidance of my vision statement:
1. Market myself as a speaker, coach and consultant.
2. Write and develop workshops for work-teams so that they can function more effectively and happily.
3. Share content on LinkedIn, Facebook, and my own website that helps my target audience.
4. Network around my community with small businesses.
5. Because my content is focused on small to medium businesses in my community, I haven’t marketed heavily nation wide yet. (That will be later after I finish establishing a sustainable model for my immediate community).
6. Write a book that can be a practical resource for entrepreneurs, professionals, and business owners and leaders.
7. I don’t do certain kinds of training. I focus primarily on people skills, not hard-skills, which has led me to decline training offers for hard-skills (computer skills, first-aid…).
How to lead your organization with vision
This article was written to address you needs. Follow the process as written and share the vision with your organization
How to lead a team within an organization (mid-level to front-line leaders)
Your job is to find a personal and team vision and mission that aligns with your organization’s vision and mission that is meaningful to you, impactful to your organization, and achievable in your role and by your team.
If you are an independent
Treat yourself as the organization, everything in this article is written in a way that can apply to you in its current form.
· Do you have a vision for your business or for yourself?
· If you do, is it achievable, impactful, and meaningful?
· If you would like help – reach out to Derek Rey Consulting – this is what we do!
Wrapping it up
This article was just the tip of the iceberg. When my book is done, the section on vision will sit at about 7000 words. There is a lot more to learn. But – this is a solid start for you!
Start here, see what you can come up with. Don’t hesitate to call a mentor and share your vision with them. Seek their feedback.
If you don’t have a mentor, feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn, Facebook, or you can find my email on my website.
After reading this article, I wish one thing for you: You are now compelled to lead with vision and make decisions with vision.
This was Part 5 in a multi-part series that will teach and explain The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership™.
Follow me to catch the upcoming posts where I explain in greater details what it means to build a foundation and lead from each of the perspectives. Look for upcoming posts on Mondays. Follow my business page, Derek Rey Consulting, LLC to find all of the 6 Perspectives blog posts archived.
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