What Makes a Great People Manager? Part 7: Vision
I've mentioned several times before that a huge part of our jobs as people managers is to inspire our people. And what better way to do that than to paint a picture of a future that is better than today. That is essentially what setting vision is and we as leaders have the great privilege of being the facilitators of its creation, evolution and thriving.
There are lots of definition of "vision". The common themes from the best definitions involve the future and a path.
Where are we going? How are we going to get there? And why are we doing this and/or why will it matter?
Where? How? And Why?
These are the 3 vital questions any organization must answer and ensure that every individual member understands, believes in and acts against.
Where, How, Why
This phrase has become incredibly popular since Simon Sinek's book and Ted talk with the same name. For those who don't know what it means, basically it means focusing on deeper beliefs and motivations that drive our fulfillment and happiness in life. Every person and every organization has a "Why", although many haven't made it explicit and written it down. The danger in not making it explicit is that we can become misaligned with our core purpose and start doing things for the wrong reasons which can lead to burnout, failure and unhappiness.
One of the single best things we can do as leaders is to make the "Why", or purpose, cause, or mission, clear and concise and invite others aligned with it to join us. This will lead to happy people, making real impact and ultimately lead to long term organizational success.
Once an organization's "Why" is clear, it can then paint a picture of the world it envisions. This can and absolutely should involve the measures of success too. However, this should not only be about money or productivity. It should include those things, but should also have other things like customer and employee happiness. For example, Berry Wehmiller, an American manufacturing company, measures the divorce rate of its employees.
Because they figure if the company is doing a great job creating meaningful and fulfilling work and valuing their employees then they'll go home happy and treat their spouses better ultimately leading to happier marriages and families. Pretty powerful, huh?
This is where we come up with the stuff most organizations already know to do and have framed on the walls in their hallways, which are values and strategies. The key difference here being leaders that successfully use these to drive culture and results are dead serious about them and ensure that all values and strategies are deeply rooted in and connected to the "Why" and the "Where". Not only that, but the leader must be so obsessed with personally living out the company values and expecting everyone else around them to do the same.
Unfortunately too many companies don't obsess about values enough to actually engrain them into everyone's minds in order to have them influence their behavior. Just like one company, as an example, that had integrity as a value. I'm sure they had frames of eagles flying through blue skies with the word "Integrity" at the bottom with a catchy phrase below that in every hallway of their headquarters. Who is this company I'm referring to? Enron.
The Team as Your Partners
It can be very powerful for someone to have influence over the direction of their team or organization.
By involving your team in the conversation and clarification of the "Where, How and Why" you will exponentially increase their buy-in and the likelihood of success of bringing those things to life.
John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods, talks about a process like this in the book he co-authored called Conscious Capitalism. He describes pulling together dozens of team members from across all different parts of the company and reviews it purpose, vision and strategy every few years. Mackey points to this as one of the most powerful and centering things they do as an organization which has led to much of its success as a company.
Moving on to Part 8
Last but not least, Part 8. Part 8 is about technical competence and we will talk about its importance in so far as helping the team to be successful.
Thanks for reading!
Simon Sinek Start With Why
Raj Sisodia and John Mackey Conscious Capitalism
Simon Sinek Ted Talk Start With Why