Leading with Vision: Bosses Say What to Do; Leaders Explain Why
At one time or another, we have all had a job that we didn’t really love. You just showed up, did what you were told, and left. You didn’t feel any real loyalty or purpose—it was just a means to an end.
Think about it, when you go to most fast-food chains, you feel like just a number. There is little care to ensure your order is correct or that you are treated courteously. Generally speaking, employees tend to be uninterested and unmotivated to provide any kind of customer service. However, when you go to Chick-fil-A, it is different. Their employees are happy, proud, and willing to serve you. It is obvious that they hire, train, and live by their vision: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Many of us feel we lack purpose or loyalty because the job or the task we’re doing, but research has shown that loyalty and purpose comes from the top.
One of the biggest distinctions between a leader and a boss is that a boss tells you what to do, whereas a leader tells you why you are doing it. In order to articulate the why, your organization needs to have a clear and concise vision. Your vision is what connects you to your people, and your people to your customers. It’s what drives your strategy. To lead with vision, you must:
- Start with Why: Your why should always be a part of your vision. Why did you go into your trade? Why did you open your doors? Why do you serve others?
- Be Concise: Don’t fill your vision with buzzwords or fluff. It should be simple and something that can be remembered and repeated.
- Be Clear: Focus your vision on one goal or objective.
- Focus on the Future: Your vision is not where you are today. It is where you want to be in the future. Where do you aspire to be?
- Keep It Stable: Your mission may change but your vision shouldn’t. It is a long-term goal that shouldn’t be affected by the economy or other outside forces.
- Make It Challenging: Remember this is a long-term goal. If you can complete it in a couple years, you are not aiming high enough.
- Keep It Realistic: Yes, you want it to be challenging but it has to be realistic. If you own a plumbing company, your vision shouldn’t be to be the #1 entertainment company in the region. If it’s unrealistic or unfocused, it will be immediately discarded.
- Make It Inspiring: Create a vision that will inspire your team as a desirable goal.
- Abstract Is Ok: Remember your vision is the why, not the how. Don’t get bogged down in how you are going to reach your vision. Let it be general enough to capture your organizations interests and direction.
- Connect with Customers Emotionally: Customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. When you connect with customers emotionally, you create loyal customers, not just repeat ones.
- Find People That Align with Your Why: People’s personal whys don’t typically change. If you aren’t able to connect with your people, then they will not be able to connect with your customers. Find people that align with your why, then train for skills.
- Sustain the Vision: Do not let your vision be something that is just posted on a wall or on your website. Use it to drive your strategic planning and goals. Have team-building activities that relate to the vision. Celebrate when people perform actions that align with your This will inspire others to live out the vision.
Your vision is your where and why. It is a snapshot that inspires your business and drives and challenges your team on a daily basis.
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“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first” —Simon Sinek