Does your organization have a vision statement? If the vision statement sounds somewhat embarrassing, the organization is on the right track. Vision, after all, is an expression of hope and idealism. It oversimplifies the world and implies that anything is possible. The embarrassment stems from the vulnerability incurred by taking a stance of innocence in the midst of an environment that is, for the most part, sophisticated, hard-nosed, and pragmatic. The creation of a vision statement forces organizations to take a stand for a preferred future while empowering colleagues to take ownership of their functional domains. Thus, when vision statements move beyond mere words, they become the life force that animates and permeates all levels of the organization.
FOUR TIPS FOR CREATING A VISION OF GREATNESS
Tip No. 1: Forget about Being Number One
A vision of greatness is a statement by which an organization commits certain things to its customers and those within the organization. For colleagues to buy in to the vision, it must be worth pursuing for its own sake. Visions of greatness look beyond the short term and perpetuate an organizational culture that serves and believes in the noble purpose outlined in the statement.
Tip No. 2: Don’t Be Practical
The desire to be practical works against the creation of vision, as a vision of greatness expresses the spiritual and idealistic side of an organization’s nature. Greatness is a preferred future state that comes from the heart, not from the head. Start with a grand idea and push back against the voice of practicality. Believe in the impossible.
Tip No. 3: Begin with Your Customers
The long-term survival of an organization depends on how well the organization stays aligned with and serves its internal and external customers. Functional units and the colleagues that comprise them must understand and apply the vision of greatness as they interact with customers and co-workers.
Tip No. 4: You Can’t Treat Your Customers Any Better Than You Treat Each Other
If customer needs are being ignored, it stands to reason that such cold, indifferent, and unresponsive behavior mirrors the management style of influential supervisors and executives within the organization. Managers have to lead their teams in a way that is aligned with how customers should be treated. Doing so creates a virtuous cycle of internal and external adherence to the vision of greatness.
An organization’s vision statement channels its deepest values and forms a picture of how corporate ideals are to be lived out internally and externally. Statements of greatness should inspire colleagues to demonstrate an organization’s core beliefs—not out of forced compliance, but because the big picture goals are noble and customer-centric.
To learn more about how to create an empowered culture in the workplace, check out The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work, 2nd Edition