Remember hearing your mom or dad say “I love you” when you were a kid?
Those magic words nourished our souls and gave us the foundation we needed to explore the world with a sense of purpose and confidence. In contrast, failure to hear any loved ones tell you they love you, or give you words of affirmation of some sort, could leave you feeling adrift, disconnected and insecure about your place in the world.
I have no doubt that those of us lucky enough to grow up with plenty of positive reinforcement have an easier time ‘being ourselves’ and growing into better versions of those same selves a result.
There is an organizational equivalent to hearing “I love you” from a parent. To become our best selves at work, we need to be infused with the company’s vision. When employees feel connected to a vision they believe in, their work is energized with a sense of meaning and purpose; they will bring more passion and more heart to the work they are doing, and will push themselves to take chances and strive for more impact.
Yes, people can still do their jobs without being connected to the vision. But just like the kids never felt any "love,” those employees will have a harder time feeling connected and reaching their highest levels of motivation.
This way of thinking took me a long time to understand. In fact, for many years, I was missing out on a major leadership opportunity...
Learning The Hard Way: Sharing the Company Vision with Generosity
In the past, at our quarterly all-company meetings, we would put a killer deck together and share the big vision. Boom! People would be pumped and applaud the vision - they were genuinely excited.
Then weeks would go by, and I’d be in a meeting and hear someone say, “I don’t understand the vision here.” Whenever I heard it, I would get defensive and annoyed. I would think to myself, “We just had an all-hands meeting a month ago. We shared the vision. What are you talking about?”
Can you imagine a parent saying this to their child? “I told you I loved you last quarter, what are you talking about?” That sounds crazy, but the old version of me did exactly that.
Connecting Your Team with the Bigger Picture: When a Company Vision Becomes the Company Mission
A company vision represents the future state of the world that will exist when your company is successful. It represents the change that is going to happen because of the influence of your team’s shared success.
Helping people see past the day-to-day and picture themselves into the future—even just for a few minutes—helps make everything you are doing in the present feel more purposeful and meaningful. It often takes millions of steps to make a vision become a reality and it’s the core job of a leader to help everyone get there one step at a time.
As leaders, we need to share the company’s vision not just once, but over and over again. That’s greatness. It fuels people’s tanks. It gives people purpose. It’s a reminder of what we’re all doing and why. Sharing the company's vision and getting your team's buy-in is what transforms a vision for the future into the present-tense company mission—the shared sense of purpose that drives everyone working at a company.
The day-to-day grind we all face is challenging — unhappy customers, rollout problems, site issues, etc. Much of this stuff is a far cry from the vision, and without a light glowing in the future, it’s easy to get lost or just not run as hard -- what’s the point?
Sharing the Company Vision—As Often As Possible
So share your vision with love and do it often. When people don’t know the vision, get excited that you’re hearing that feedback and have the opportunity to take the time to share the vision again — with them and everyone else. Record your vision somewhere so people can play it when you’re not around. Put reminders of your vision all over your office. Make slogans that embody the spirit of your vision. Create a mission statement that ties it all together. Make t-shirts people can wear. Let people own it in any way you can think of.
Feeling loved/validated is an essential human need. Feeling connected to the company vision is the business equivalent. So if you are a leader in an organization, at any level, don’t hold back on sharing the vision and discussing its relevance. Be creative and persistent in how and when you share it. And don’t ever stop. Because just as kids can’t get enough of their parents’ love, your organization’s people can’t hear enough about the “why” of what they do.