May 28, 2012
Originally published on May 23, 2012 as a Special to Globe and Mail Update
As Canadians, many of us understand the enormous power of a vision. Just imagine holding the Stanley Cup over your head. Millions of fans share a passion for the quest for hockey’s greatest trophy and we continue to believe that the right people, with the right plan, will someday make it happen for our team.
In the corporate world, your goals may not be summed up as neatly as they are in a single gleaming trophy. Nonetheless, your vision for your organization must fuel your people’s hopes and dreams. Your vision should be more than a bottom line or a number on a sales chart. It should be a tangible big-picture goal that galvanizes your people and exemplifies the pride – and the values – of your entire organization.
Professional hockey players will leap off their sick beds or skate on broken legs to play in a Stanley Cup final, driven by that vision of drinking from the Cup or flashing their Stanley Cup rings. To get similar commitments from your team members, your organization must invest time and energy to create lofty, future-oriented visions that everyone can share.
Crafting your vision statement is more than a goal-setting exercise. The process of envisioning and articulating the future offers a singular opportunity to gather the whole team together to build a consensus around not just the organization’s objectives, but also its purpose. With an aspirational vision that goes beyond the company and the immediate needs of its customers, you can create a powerful new springboard for growth and innovation.
To me, the responsibility of articulating an organizational vision belongs to the CEO. As the boss, you are your company’s chief innovation officer. Through the creation of a specific and compelling vision, you can also become chief inspiration officer. Consider Jack Welch, who reignited people’s passion for the behemoth known as General Electric by announcing that GE would exit any industry in which it could not be the clear No. 1 or No. 2 in the market. He focused the company on eliminating waste, trimming bureaucracy and upgrading its products and processes in order to serve customers better – a much more tangible goal than his predecessors’ objective of increasing shareholder value.
With the right mission and vision, you too can tap the true creativity and passion of your people; those deep reserves that most people don’t bring to work unless they’re fired up and striving for meaningful goals.
As an entrepreneur, you have an advantage as an inspirational leader. It was likely your vision of creating something new – a product or service that was much better than anything that came before – that spawned your organization in the first place. Keep that vision alive. Update it and share it. Your singular vision will bolster the energy and clarity of your whole team. It will act as a beacon to guide future decisions and rally others – customers, suppliers, and other potential partners – around your mission.
My advice: Keep your vision lofty. Of course it must be doable – but maybe it shouldn’t be too easy. To drink from the Stanley Cup, your team must win four hard-fought best-of-seven playoff series against equally fired-up opposition. That’s what makes a vision so powerful; who knows when you will have a chance like this again? Make sure your vision appeals to the highest and best values of your team – and keep the pressure on.