There are a few things that a CEO must do well to be successful. I believe the constant beating of the vision drum is one of those precious few things which are key. The CEO and the executive team are constantly bombarded with requests and obligations, but we cannot forget the vital and critical parts of our roles that when it comes right down to it, are going to make us or break us.
The CEO must be future-focused. They must be constantly looking out into the future as far as they can possibly see in order to anticipate issues and problems and make course corrections while there is still plenty of time to avoid the snag. As part of this process, the vision must be crafted and set in such a way that it provides clarity and execution on where the organization is going. The CEO must balance total accountability with only limited control; therefore, they must find ways to encourage commitment from the team, rather than compliance. When the CEO and the executive staff are operating at an optimum level, they are communicating the complete vision for the next 3 to 5 years in a consistent and compelling manner.
Here are some benefits of the hard work it takes to do that:
People want to know where the company is headed. There is nothing more frustrating or perhaps even scary that not knowing what is up ahead. Also, you encounter a problem internally when you are not clear about the direction because then people tend to create their own assumptions about the direction, which are usually based on assumptions and half-truths of bits of information. The vision is really a clear, brief summation of your strategic plan for the organization. When employees see how the strategy and tactics connection with the vision and direction, it provides a sense of confidence. Confidence is based on predictability and it’s your job to make sure you do not give your organization surprises and sudden turns that seem contrary to your stated direction.
People get energized and excited when they feel they are certain about the plans for the future. It’s your accountability to make sure the vision never lacks energy. If you feel the energy is waning or going out of your vision, you must find ways to re-energize it. Also remember, that much of it depends on how you talk about, write about it and are excited about it.
People want to pass on good things. It is a non-negotiable requirement that all leaders and managers in the company talk about and spread the vision. It’s like when you eat at a wonderful restaurant and you can’t wait to tell friends about your experience. You must create that kind of transferability. Some of it can be hard-wired into the rhythm of your organization’s communication and some of it has to come from training and expecting it from all your people.
The vision must become something everyone (but especially managers) assume accountability for in the company. The leaders and managers should know that if the vision gets soft or stale inside the workings of the organization, they must immediately take action to correct it. Yes, it is possible for the top leadership to be pumping out an exciting vision, only to have it die in the middle of the company. I just had a client CEO who was removed because he was unaware of how dead the vision was at the middle level of the company. The vision message must be communicated both down and up throughout the organization to ensure its success.
The vision should be transforming both the organization and its people into better versions of both. The vision should be challenging the company to become what it needs to be to support the mission and purpose of the organization and also, to be successful in the marketplace. This transition is probably going to require some change in not only the people but also in other aspects of the company. You and your team need to make sure you are traveling this path of transition and transformation in a way that is consistent with the direction you have put forth for the next few years. The benefit, once the vision is fulfilled, is that you should have a much higher level of both employee and company in line with what you set out as a vision 3 to 5 years ago.
For more resources, sign up for Tony’s Monday Morning Coaching Memo.