The Importance of Applauding Yourself

Confident, humble leaders take a moment to privately applaud themselves. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a mini-timeout to tell yourself “Wow! Great job,” particularly for the incremental baby steps that change the game. Privately applauding yourself is vital if others aren’t looking at or caring about your greater mission.

One of the great joys of my new journey is that I get to meet so many kindred spirits from all over the world. I’m honing my “confident-humility” radar-detection system. I’m pleased to introduce Roberto Martinez from Bogota, Columbia to you through his guest post and short video interview.

I met Roberto after a speech I gave at the National Speaker Association’s Business Accelerator Lab.  He’s a doctor, a musician, a teacher, a speaker, a husband and father doing important work. You have to pull all of that out of him, though, because mostly he’s a humble man working to inspire good where it needs to happen most.

I was inspired by his thinking on taking time to “applaud yourself.” (Watch the video to hear more.)

See my interview with Roberto here. 

Roberto Martinez’s Thinking on Applauding Yourself

Some time ago a friend of mine asked me how to stay true to your journey toward fulfilling your dreams.  After all, it’s hard. There are competing pressures. Here’s my best thinking for the LGL community.

  1. Link to Passion:  Be sure that what you’re doing is connected to your passion and to your greatest purpose in life. It is not about “the what”… it is about the “why” and “the what for.”
  2. Don’t Think Small: The key is to verify that you are not doing what you want for a small reason. As I told my friend, make sure you are walking up that road not only to pay the rent, or to be able to go to the movies after you paid the bills of the month, but to create something really great. Something that counts for many and helps many people around you,while you are in the process. Your true passion is that thing that will get you out of your bed every morning full of energy and with a big smile in your face!
  3. Bring Optimism:  You have to mix that passion and intention with optimism, so you can ignite persistence. Remember that real optimism is not about being always happy, or never finding a bump in the road. It is about having confidence that sooner or later you will reach all your goals, even if you don’t necessarily know at present how you will accomplish them. If you persist in the intention and do the homework, you will find the way and you will meet the right people to overcome the barriers.
  4. Applaud Yourself: Celebrate the small victories that you have along the way. Usually people throw big parties, receptions and celebrations when they accomplish great steps, but you know what? You do not have to celebrate these great victories! Other people will celebrate them for you.  The ones that you have to celebrate are precisely the small ones. Those that nobody know about but you. Those victories that in the bottom of your heart you truly know they were very hard to gain, but you did it. Those victories will give you the confidence and the strength to continue when everything seems uphill.
  5. Be Aware of Your Legacy:  Make sure you are going accompanied in the road. Whose life is easier down the road as a result of your efforts? This is certainly one of the steps that creates the greatest commitment to your vision because is no longer just about you– it is about them.
  6. Enjoy the Journey: At the end of the day, it is not so much about the goal itself… it is about the type of person that you will become as you pursue the goal.

The synergy of these six steps will inspire you, and others, to support your vision.

I would love to hear your insights and thoughts. Feel free to reach out. Roberto@rmleadinglife.com

Visit Roberto’s site rmleadinglife.com or find him on Facebook, or Twitter @rm_leadinglife

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The Insiders Guide to Communicating the Big Picture

Is your team struggling with poor results, apathy, and feelings of being overwhelmed?  Stop and consider if they really understand the big picture.

Can they grasp real meaning in their work beyond the growing daily to do list. As we continue our series on the biggest mistakes team leaders make, we focus on the perils of under communicating the big picture.

Symptoms that Your Team Doesn’t Get the Big Picture

Kelly’s Story:

Kelly’s team is really busy. They’ve been working hard and getting by, but results are stagnant. She’s tried everything: more recognition, contests, she even came in dressed as a superhero to try to get the team riled up. Each of these stunts worked for a day or so, but then the results returned to their normal mediocre state and the stress levels creeped right back up.

Frustrated, Kelly went old school and writing warnings for those at the bottom of the stack rank. That got a few people’s attention, but now morale is in the tank.

She asked Frank, one of her most dedicated team members, how he was feeling:

I’m getting pretty stressed out too. It just seems that we’ve got this really long list of things to do and the work just keeps coming. I feel like I’m on a treadmill and am just running toward nowhere.

When Kelly asked if he understood, why they had been asked to work so hard this summer, he just shrugged his shoulders. Chances are, Kelly could make a big difference by doing a better job of communicating the big picture.

  • Mediocre results
  • High Absenteeism
  • Apathy
  • Insatiable thirst for recognition
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed

Why Team Leaders Forget to Connect the Dots

Communicating the big picture is a skill that’s often lost in early leadership development programs. After all, big picture thinking is for execs, right? No. Everyone needs to get where they fit in. Many team leaders under-communicate the big picture for the following reasons.

  • You Don’t Fully Understand It – Face it, sometimes the big picture is murky. It could be that change is happening so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Or, there’s a lot of secret stuff happening behind closed doors, and what’s hitting the front line really doesn’t make sense. If what you’re being asked to ask your team to do feels stupid, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure it makes sense to you. If you’re frustrated and confused, your team will see it. Get the clarity you need first. If that’s tricky ask for advice, or talkpoints, or an opportunity to role-play how to best communicate a message to your team. If it still doesn’t make sense, respectfully articulate your concerns. You may have a perspective that has yet to be considered.
  • You’re Relying On Someone Else To Do It – You know your team has heard the message at least 4 times. Go for 5. Even if they’ve heard the webcast, participated in the town hall, read then company newsletter, and had a visit from the senior team, they need to hear it from you. Teams need people they trust to translate the big picture. They need time to ask questions and to voice their concerns. Just because the smiled happily when your bosses boss shared the news, does not mean they’re gun ho and ready to go.
  • You’re Just Too Busy – When you’re drowning, it hardly seems like a good time to step back and contemplate the big picture. But you may be surprised how much time you can save from such a little investment. Once upon a time I was leading a sales team that was just not executing in one particular arena. They just didn’t seem motivated to try. It didn’t make any sense to me, because the comp plan clearly paid big bucks in this arena. I was venting to my finance guy, “don’t they understand that just doing this one thing right could go a long way in paying off their car?” He asked one simple question, “Karin, are you sure they know how they’re getting paid?” You guessed it, despite all the training on the comp plan, the team meetings, and the fact that they got a detailed statement each month, the majority of the team could not explain to me how they got paid. We took the time out to go through everyone’s statement one-on-one. Bingo.

3 Ways To Communicate the Big Picture with Ease

So you want to get better in this arena? Try these three steps:
  1. Magnify The Meaning – Talk to your team about the impact their work has on the greater good: the customer, the world, and others they serve. Engage in dialogue and ask them to identify what makes them most proud about the work that they do.
  2. Clarify Priorities – It’s vital that the tasks you’re asking the team to perform does not feel like a to-do list of unrelated tasks. Bundle the work into meaningful chunks that link back to the bigger picture. If you can’t combine the tasks into meaningful clusters, you may have too many priorities. Figure out what matters most and nail those. Know that if something needs to drop what that will be. If you have to fail at something be sure you’re the one that chooses what that will be
  3. Simplify the Message – If you can’t explain your team’s mission in one sentence you don’t fully understand it. If you’re really struggling, ask a few strong team members to give it a shot. Everyone on your team should be able to respond to your team’s mission in a very similar way.

All the other work you do as a team leader will be undermined if your team doesn’t have a strong unifying sense or where they’re headed. Ask your team today. Can they articulate your team’s mission in one sentence?

Note:

Under-communicating the Big Picture surfaced as an important theme in response to my post The Biggest Mistakes Team Leaders Make. If you missed that post, take a quick look so you can join the fun.

We’re working on a crowd-sourced e-book that will be free to all LGL subscribers. The Insiders Guide To Communicating the Big Picture is the starting point for chapter two.

Please share your success stories and lessons learned for possible inclusion.

We hope you will join the fun. It’s not to late to contribute your thoughts to the Insiders Guide To Micromanagement.

4 Signs You Have An Inspiring Point Of View

Weak leaders waffle and shape-shift. They’re easily swayed by popular opinion or the path of least resistance. 

Their point of view is remarkably consistent with whatever their boss says, or send messages that will cause the least amount of work. They attract other easy people, who’ll just go with the flow. The flow turns to stagnant mediocrity.

Inspiring leaders have a more deliberate, inspiring point of view. They’re attracted to, and attract, others with carefully considered perspectives.

“The most difficult work most professionals do is getting someone else to agree with their point of view and take action. The second most difficult work professionals do is developing a point of view in the first place.”
~ Seth Godin

Strong leaders articulate a recognizable point of view:

  • What would Gandhi say?
  • What would Jesus do?
  • How about Martin Luther?
  • Martin Luther King?
  • What would (insert your favorite leader here) do?,/li>

4 Signs You Have An Inspiring Point Of View

V – Vision: Your expectations are clear and easy to follow. People get where you are headed and why. Clarity brings consistency and comfort.

I – Integrity: You do what you say and say what you do. Your team knows what to expect from you, and what behaviors you expect from them.

E – Empowerment: An inspiring point of view guides, scaffolds and empowers action. No waiting around for permission and guidance. You stay out of the weeds because you know your team understands your perspective. They don’t have to run to you for decisions, they can just ask WW_D?

W – Wisdom: You’re clear but not stuck. You help others clarify their own thinking and articulate their point of view. You know the best results come after careful consideration of diverse perspectives. You welcome debate.

Point of View Check-Points

Consider your point of view on leadership or parenting, marriage, friendship, customer service. What beliefs do you hold most strongly? How do you communicate your point of view to your followers or children, spouse, friends, customers? If you’re brave, ask them. Do you like what you hear?

The Danger Of Knowing Exactly What You Want

Kerri knows exactly what she wants in her “some day” husband. He’s her intellectual peer, has common interests, and is hot – like her. She’s got big plans for her large hypothetical family.

She’s convinced Mr. Right is right around the corner. She only looks up when he matches the picture on her vision board. She doesn’t date much.

“We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.”
~ Dale Carnegie

It happens in careers too. Have a vision, mind-map your life, set goals, make plans, get up earlyhustle. Without direction, you’ll under-achieve. With over-direction you’ll destroy your potential.

The Danger of Knowing Exactly What You Want

Beware of the downsides of your know-it-all pursuit. Laser-like focus burns past peripheral opportunities. Strategically built networks exclude the “weirdos” you need.

“Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work.”
~ Seth Godin

Dogged pursuit of exactly what you want scares those who’ve got relevant guidance. Pushing too hard, pushes away possibilities:

  • In pursuit of promotion, you miss your calling
  • You make the deadline, but miss the mistake
  • You hustle past the guy you need to know
  • You love your suppliers, so stop hearing pitches
  • You’re too busy to take on the special project

Hustle With Possibility

Think big, set goals, make plans and then…

  • Pause for rest and reflection
  • Hang out with unusual suspects
  • Read on unrelated topics
  • Volunteer
  • Make lateral moves
  • Notice what brings you joy
  • Listen to your team

What Needy Needs: 8 Ways To Empower Past Dependency

Needy drains energy. Needy distracts. Needy wastes time. Needy surfaces guilt “gosh, maybe they really do need more.” You want to help. Helping too much hurts them, you, and the rest of the team.

Dig deeper to get to the root cause of dependency. Maybe it’s them. Be sure it’s not you.

Causes of Needy

Needy comes from:

  • Upbringing
  • Self-doubt
  • Fear
  • Incompetence
  • Misunderstanding
  • Lack of vision
  • Unclear goals
  • Micro-management
  • Disfunctional teams
  • Bad leadership

From Needy to Needed

Turn your high-maintenance employee into a highly valued contributor. Give enough to help, without encouraging dependent behavior.

  1. Create safety. Build trust. Many needs stem from insecurity. Invest in the relationship and show you really care. Create professional intimacy as appropriate. As questions. Spend time getting to know them personally. Show up real. Share how you work on your leadership. Expose a personal mistake or two. Make failure a friendly topic.
  2. Listen – Get underneath root cause. This may bet messy, and may call for reinforcements, e.g. Employee Assistance Programs, a coach. If there’s work to be done, help them get help.
  3. Reinforce Vision and Goals – Check for understanding. Have them articulate their role in the big picture. Brainstorm together how they can best contribute, and what support they think they need. Also reinforce where you don’t need to be involved. Create clear parameters for decision making.
  4. Assess competence and skills – Make it okay to tell you they don’t know how. This is often the easist one to fix.
  5. Stay consistent – Stay calm through mistakes. Leaders who freak can bring back childhood memories, and childlike behaviors.
  6. Promote teamwork – Create space to talk about diverse team strengths. Encourage the team to rely on one another.
  7. Reasonable Reassurance. Recognize incremental wins. Celebrate success.
  8. Back off – Explain what your doing. Have a conversation. And then stop helping. Extreme, but potentially necessary. I talked to one leader who shared that his team had become so dependent, he just stopped answering their calls and emails. After the shock, I asked “soooo… how did that work?” The team started relying on one another and figured things out. Results skyrocketed.

Who Says You’re Not Qualified?

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.” “I don’t have experience.” “I’m too old to try that now.”

Negative self-talk smashes dreams. We look for data to corroborate our fear.

Big Starts Small

I always wanted to run the Boston marathon. The only issue, I hadn’t yet run a 10K. I was decidedly not qualified for that dream. I wasn’t a real runner. I was busy exec and mom. I could have easily talked myself out of it. I’m sure I could have found plenty of friends to affirm my self-doubt. I didn’t ask for opinions. I started running. A few laps around the neighborhood. A 10K, a half marathon, a couple of marathons, many lonely miles in the woods with a timer. On my 40-something Birthday, I ran Boston.

Sometimes, Nike is right.

Forget Qualified, Just Start

What’s your dream? If great seems too crazy to articulate start softly. John Acuff, author of START shares 3 questions fear conveys to “every person who dares to start down the road to awesome.”

  1. Who are you to do that?
  2. You’re too late
  3. It has to be perfect.

I asked John, What is the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of starting?

“The biggest obstacle is fear. I’ve never met anyone who told me, “I’ve never had a single dream, idea or passion.” Regardless of your age or job, everyone has had a dream at some point. What gets in the way most often is fear. We hear these voices of doubt that say, “Who are you to do that?” We feel unqualified. We fear failure but also success. In moments like that we put our dreams back on the shelf for another day or another week or even another year. One day we wake up and say those five powerful words, “How did I get here?”

Start by

  1. Working at it every day
    In her research-based book Mindset, Carol Dweck offers example after example of the unremarkable beginnings of remarkable people. Darwin, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Edison, became great by believing they could, working hard, failing, and getting better day by day. Renowned blogger Seth Godin wrote his 5000th post this week. Want to feel optimistic about getting better with time? Read his early stuff.  Seth Godin got great at writing by writing.
  2. Get experience
    Volunteer.  Give work away. Take a part-time job
  3. Get help
    Ask for feedback. Find coaches and advisors. Learn from every one you can. I love it when I get feedback on my posts. This week a friend wrote, “Strong post with a weak start. You can do better than this.” And then asked some provocative questions. I fixed it with gratitude. When you’re open to learning, people will help.
  4. Avoid the “haters”
    Acuff shares, “someone is going to hate what you do.” That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite. And I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate. With energy and vitriol and a passion that surprises you. Haters are inevitable. Your response is up for grabs.” Learn to manage your trolls.
  5. What would you add?

Start your dream. It’s not too late. Start small, build to amazing.

 

Who Says You're Not Qualified?

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.” “I don’t have experience.” “I’m too old to try that now.”

Negative self-talk smashes dreams. We look for data to corroborate our fear.

Big Starts Small

I always wanted to run the Boston marathon. The only issue, I hadn’t yet run a 10K. I was decidedly not qualified for that dream. I wasn’t a real runner. I was busy exec and mom. I could have easily talked myself out of it. I’m sure I could have found plenty of friends to affirm my self-doubt. I didn’t ask for opinions. I started running. A few laps around the neighborhood. A 10K, a half marathon, a couple of marathons, many lonely miles in the woods with a timer. On my 40-something Birthday, I ran Boston.

Sometimes, Nike is right.

Forget Qualified, Just Start

What’s your dream? If great seems too crazy to articulate start softly. John Acuff, author of START shares 3 questions fear conveys to “every person who dares to start down the road to awesome.”

  1. Who are you to do that?
  2. You’re too late
  3. It has to be perfect.

I asked John, What is the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of starting?

“The biggest obstacle is fear. I’ve never met anyone who told me, “I’ve never had a single dream, idea or passion.” Regardless of your age or job, everyone has had a dream at some point. What gets in the way most often is fear. We hear these voices of doubt that say, “Who are you to do that?” We feel unqualified. We fear failure but also success. In moments like that we put our dreams back on the shelf for another day or another week or even another year. One day we wake up and say those five powerful words, “How did I get here?”

Start by

  1. Working at it every day
    In her research-based book Mindset, Carol Dweck offers example after example of the unremarkable beginnings of remarkable people. Darwin, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Edison, became great by believing they could, working hard, failing, and getting better day by day. Renowned blogger Seth Godin wrote his 5000th post this week. Want to feel optimistic about getting better with time? Read his early stuff.  Seth Godin got great at writing by writing.
  2. Get experience
    Volunteer.  Give work away. Take a part-time job
  3. Get help
    Ask for feedback. Find coaches and advisors. Learn from every one you can. I love it when I get feedback on my posts. This week a friend wrote, “Strong post with a weak start. You can do better than this.” And then asked some provocative questions. I fixed it with gratitude. When you’re open to learning, people will help.
  4. Avoid the “haters”
    Acuff shares, “someone is going to hate what you do.” That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite. And I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate. With energy and vitriol and a passion that surprises you. Haters are inevitable. Your response is up for grabs.” Learn to manage your trolls.
  5. What would you add?

Start your dream. It’s not too late. Start small, build to amazing.

 

Perfect Vision is Over-Rated

You had a perfect vision. Great plans. Strong execution strategy. You worked very hard. You recruited the best talent. Game on.

Oh crap. You didn’t anticipate the change in weather. The new competitor. The newcomers with new ideas. You dig into your plan harder, someone calls you pushy. Your feelings are hurt. You keep pushing. They don’t understand how hard you’ve worked. It’s too late to change now.

Don’t lose vision in pursuit of the plan.

Blurry, But Perfect Vision

When everything appears to be “going wrong” step back. It may be going more “right” than you think.

1. Consider

  • Are the obstacles preventing my perfect vision, or changing the way we get there?
  • Is this change really bad, or just different?
  • Will changing the plan create more supporters?
  • Who’s still with me?
  • Why am I married to this specific plan?
  • Am I leading with confident humility, or just confidence?

2. Engage

  • Talk with the team, do they still believe in the vision?
  • Discuss the changes in circumstances
  • Generate ideas
  • Involve them in choices
  • Collaborate on solutions

3. Respond

  • Build the new plan
  • Garnish excitement from the obstacles
  • Overcome
  • Celebrate wins

Interviewing? 4 Ways to Set Yourself Apart

It takes more than qualifications to get the job. Don’t count on your track record. In a close race, best prepared wins.

Two candidates were interviewing for a District Sales Manager position. Both had great backgrounds and qualifications. Both nailed the Behavior Based Interview, and we moved on to talk about their planned approach.

Joe (not his real name) came with his generic 90 day strategy. It was as if he had read Michael Watkin’s Book, The First 90 Days,* and copied the generic advice into his plan. His key actions looked like that of so many other candidates. Part of Joe’s plan was to visit every store in his territory in the first 30 days. Yawn.

*p.s I love Watkin’s book. It’s a great read when applied well.

Before her interview, Jane (not her real name), took 2 days off and visited all the stores in the new territory (across a 200 mile radius) in plain clothes. She came prepared with a list of observations, priorities, a platform for improvement, and a robust plan to begin tackling the issues in the first 30 days. She nailed the interview.

Jane’s now knocking that job out of the park.

A Deeper Approach to Interviewing

When interviewing, don’t bring generic plans. Do your homework. Go learn something deeper to discuss.

1. An Understanding of the Business

Talk to people. Arrange advanced visits if you can. Determine who is best-in-class. Understand the current priorities. Use real data to share specifics for your strategy. Come with informed questions. How far you can go with this will depend on whether you are interviewing internally or externally. However, you may be surprised how much data you can find in either circumstance. You can gain much from a solid google search.

2. A Platform

Just like a political candidate, be prepared to share your vision for this role. What is the one big thing you will accomplish? Share why you are passionate about your vision. Articulate the unique aspects of your leadership.

3. Your Angle

Describe your key skills and abilities and how they will benefit this organization. Make connections between unrelated roles. Describe how your diverse experience has built transferable skills perfect for this position.

4. Your Track Record

Come prepared with specific results and deliberate stories that highlight your leadership. Don’t just share your stack rankings(a common approach), share how you achieved them.

How Do You Inspire Passion in Others?

What if you’re “skipping to work?,” but are having trouble igniting passion on your team? That’s more difficult, and a vital part of leadership.

Why Passion Matters

Jeremy Kingsley, author of the new book, Inspired People Produce Results shares 7 reasons passion is so important in the workplace.

Passion…

1. intensifies our focus
2. enables innovation and creativity
3. provides the drive to persevere, to avoid cutting corners and to pursue excellence
4. creates energy among colleagues that allows work to be completed more quickly
5. helps people deal with fear
6. makes employees want to stay in their jobs and contribute even when they’re not feeling at their bestv

When I spoke with Jeremy, we talked about why passion is sometimes hard to come by.

“Leaders have put so much focus on leveraging people’s strengths, that they forget about passion.”

For people to function at their very best we need to help them find the work that best leverages their strengths, AND which ignites their passion.

“If you don’t find the passion you might have a strong, miserable person.”

Jeremy suggests it begins in the hiring process. Ask people “what inspires you, what brings you joy?” And then be sure there is a close match with the job you are looking to fill. He also advocates for spending the time to really get to know your team. Talk with them about what they enjoy and their hobbies. Listen actively and see what makes their eyes light up that’s a clue to what can ignite their passion.

Jeremy’s book offers 9 other ways to “inspire people to produce results. Although Jeremy gave me this book, as you know, I am not selling, just sharing insights if fact you can read a free sample chapter.

Jeremy Kingsley is a professional speaker, best-selling author, and the President of OneLife Leadership. Since 1995 he has spoken to over 500,000 people at live events around the world. He has given over 2000 keynote speeches and his messages have reached millions through radio, television, and the internet. Jeremy holds bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia International University. He is the author of four books, his latest is titled: Inspired People Produce Results (McGraw Hill 2013)Jeremy lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife and two sons.

Discard and Replenish: What Will You Stop Doing in 2013?

You had a great year, you worked hard, you achieved results, and learned along the way. Great, now what can you discard?

2013 will bring new challenges, exciting initiatives and inspiring ideas. With that will come more work, new project plans, and of course new metrics and reporting. The new initiatives will come on fast and furious, likely with sizzle and inspiration.

Your days were already full no matter how refreshed you feel, you cannot add more stuff, without discarding what has become clutter. Your team can’t either.

How can you empower them to discard?

What Can You Discard?

Before the new year excitement.

Make some room.

Ask some good questions.

Push back to others as needed.

Be sure your team is doing what matters.

What Goals No Longer Serve?

  • What was important in 2012 that no longer aligns with the evolving vision?
  • What are you pursuing because you always have?
  • What are you doing because it feels good and comfortable?

What Must Stop?

  • Revisit your team’s daily routine. Are all tasks still vital? How do they align with your 2013 goals?
  • What tasks have become less important?
  • What agendas are others still pushing which no longer align with your vision and goals?
  • What can you stop doing?
  • What???

What Metrics No Longer Serve Your Vision?

  • What reports haven’t been used in months?
  • What metrics have become less vital?
  • If you were only able to measure 3 things, what would they be? Why?
  • What other questions should you be asking????

How Must You Evolve?

  • How has your team matured?
  • Which leadership behaviors are no longer needed?
  • What do they need most from you this year?
  • What?

A new year provide opportunities for fresh starts and new challenges. Consider having a deliberate discard conversation with your team. This can also be done as a team building exercise, where each team member asks for feedback on what they should start, stop and continue doing to achieve the teams vision.

How To Build a Strong Team Vision

Whenever I take over a channel or team, one of the first questions I ask is “what is the vision?” Most of the time, this is tough to answer. There is usually strong alignment and attachment to the greater organization’s vision and values, which is vital.

However, what I find frequently missing is a sense of team vision. What is this team really about?

Sure there are goals. There may even be big important goals (see How to Pick the Right Big Goal). To build results that last, people want a connection to something bigger. The more localized you can make the vision, the more likely that it will stick.

In her post, “A Big Goal is Not the Same as a Vision, “Jesse Lynn Stoner shares:

“One way to distinguish between a vision and a goal is to ask, “What’s next?” A vision provides clear ongoing direction—it is clear what you should do next. As you take each step, the next one becomes clear. A vision continues to act as a beacon, guiding you in setting new goals once current ones have been achieved.”

To Build a Vision: Start With Questions

Creating a great team vision starts by asking questions:

  • What is the company vision? How does our team make a difference toward that end?
  • What will we be known for?
  • What feels impossible?
  • What do our customers most need from us?
  • ??? your turn what would you add?

This exercise works well too.

Imagine it is 5 years from now. Our team is being recognized for making a game changing contribution.

  • What is the most important work we are doing?
  • What are our customers saying about us?
  • What does it feel like to work on this team?
  • What is senior management saying about us?
  • ??? your turn what would you add?

The answers to these questions, help to surface what your team could be about. From there, it’s a narrowing process. The dialogue and debate are an important part of the process. Don’t rush it.

Dan McCarthy provides a fantastic step by step guide to building a vision in his post, How to Create a Shared Vision Statement. I have used similar methodologies over the years.

Of course, the danger with such exercises that is that they remain just that. I can’t tell you how many conference rooms, offices and cubes I have walked into and seen a beautifully laminated vision statement, that no one can articulate. Even worse, when I ask about it, it is doing absolutely nothing to inspire planning, behaviors or decision-making.

Vision statements that sit on shelves do more harm than good, and can can diminish your credibility as a leader. If you chose to tackle this exercise, be sure you are fully committed.

I will talk more about how to link behaviors to vision in tomorrow’s post.