Since the publication of my most recent book, Indispensable: Build and Lead A Company Can’t Live Without, last month, I have had the marvelous opportunity to discuss several of the key questions covered in the book with several fellow thought leaders.
This 5-part article series captures the essence of those discussions. Each piece is organized around one unique and important question. Along with mine, each article delivers perspectives from two other leadership luminaries.
For this article, I invited Dr. Oleg Konovalov, management advisor and author of The Vision Code, and Bryan Mattimore, Cofounder and Chief Idea Guy at Growth Engine and author of 21 Days to a Big Idea!, to tackle this key question with me:
“What advice would you give top leaders right now about the best way to establish a compelling vision – one that can serve to inspire people as they begin to resume a more typical work setting in a Post-Pandemic Business World?”
Here are the ideas that we think are worth your consideration:
Bryan: I would start by asking these three questions?
Does your company have a vision that makes clear how it will help make the world a better place?
Does your company mission clearly state how and what it will do – typically in a 3 – 5 year “future view” – to achieve the vision?
And finally, are your company’s values sufficiently well-conceived, crafted, and motivating to enable every employee to both know what the company “values” — its essential principles and beliefs – as well as guide and model behavior?
If you can say “Yes!” to all three of these questions, you’ve effectively laid the groundwork for leading your organization into the future, even during the toughest of times.
Jim: I couldn’t agree more.
In fact, in my latest book, I suggest:
‘Indispensability takes vision. It needs to be the first plank in your platform; the rock upon which your metaphorical church is built. Without the right vision, it is difficult to inspire your people to do all the work, and make all of the changes, that they will need to make to reach the pinnacle of indispensability.’
So, developing a vision that captivates is an essential leadership activity right now because it will inform how and where we intend to lead our organizations as the world begins to get back to normal.
Oleg: Yes, we need to have a vision to master the future. A strong and scalable vision comes when a conscious awareness of a problem reaches its peak.
Think of two seemingly unrelated factors – decision and ego.
Vision is a firm decision to live and work meaningfully and explore opportunities. Vision is not a choice. Choice doesn’t assume commitment and responsibility. Even, choice serves as an excuse. ‘I have done poorly because I had poor choices.’ This is for the victims of own weaknesses. Decision is about commitment and responsibility. This is for visionaries and winners.
Bryan: But how, specifically, might you inspire co-workers to be continually excited about their work in times of great disruption and personal stress? The simple answer is by re-affirming and championing the company’s values. Values are a powerful North Star for guiding behavior, re-imagining roles, and encouraging the organizational pivots changing times demand.
Which value(s) should you focus on? Pick the one that champions creative thinking, innovation and/or growth! (I have yet to find an organization that doesn’t have at least one of these values. The on-line shoe and fashion retailer Zappos, for instance, has all three!)
Jim: Let me shift back to the ‘how to do this.’ I emphatically believe the only way to do it is to craft a vision story that enables your staffers to see how they will be successful when they help you to achieve it. Remember, stories are one of the chief ways that we learn. From an early age, storytelling enables us to learn about our values, culture and what it means to be successful. Why not use a story to engage your team and inspire their best effort?
Bryan: I like to have a small, cross-functional teams of employees brainstorm – either in-person or virtually – having them identify ways they can re-imagine their jobs, as well as invent new and innovative company offerings to increase customer value!
Oleg: To add to those ideas, I believe that vision is a process directed towards helping others, often at the cost of one’s own ego. This is a great gesture of giving which is based on empathy, extraordinary effort, and care for others. A positive vision provides a purposeful service to others and values self-sacrifice over ego and selfishness. It attracts people and opens their hearts.
A big ego kills vision instantly. Ego is a mask that blocks out the world in favor of personal interest.
Vision attracts those who are inspired by it and will invest to help make it a reality. Ego will make you blind whereas a realized vision is something to be always proud of.
To close, I think that we can all agree that by heralding a vision story that accentuates sound fundamentals, yet unveils a future that people want to be part of, businesses can establish a strategic platform from which to introduce new, and extend existing programs, that position them to become indispensable.
Look for the next installment of this series on Thursday, where I explore company culture with two more influential thought leaders.
James Kerr‘s “Thought leadership” column series at the CEOWORLD magazine.
1. Do You Want A Thought Leader’s Perspective on Leadership?.
2. Thought Leadership Series Part II: Perspectives on Vision.
3. On Culture: A Thought Leader’s Perspective.
4. Trust: Part IV of Thought Leader’s Perspective Series.
5. Final Installment: Thoughts Leader’s on Authenticity.
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