Astonishingly, my last two clients – one training, and one consulting – both ran successful companies but lacked a formal strategic plan, and with that, a published mission, vision, and values. They described it as “just a bunch of words that had no real meaning.” The senior leaders of their companies disagreed, yet still, none was created. I was dumbfounded!
I was working with their senior managers in both cases, and all of them described how a mission, and more importantly, a vision, could benefit them and the people they lead. They all believed that while their respective companies were doing relatively well, there was just so much more potential that lied untapped. A clear vision, describing where they were going in the next 3-5-10 years could be just the added inspiration they could use as leaders to get everyone on board to meeting the goals to get there.
Unfortunately, there was a lack of communication between the “boss” and the managers, and as the saying goes, “sometimes you need to pick your battles.” So the strategic plan was not a subject even breached. Hopefully my outside influence will change their minds, but we’ll see. Development training can only wield just so much influence, the rest needs to come from within.
There are many situations where the CEO of a corporation does not believe in the value of a solid strategic plan. They are very busy running the company, and sometimes believe that the vision is such a moving target, it is not worth spending the time, effort, and money to develop and publish one. The attitude is sometimes,”Let’s just move forward and we’ll be OK.”
That is all well and good for them, they are calling the shots and have an eye on where the company is going at all times. But what about the managers and employees who have to execute the plan each and every day. The strategic plan is a tool that is imperative for leaders to have, in order to lead their teams from a position of confidence. Their people expect that their leaders have a plan, and know exactly how to get where they’re going. How much simpler and less stressful would their lives be if they knew the plan (even if it was a moving target subject to change), and how much easier would it be to execute if they were fully bought-in to the plan as well.
Even if you don’t have a corporate strategic plan, as a strong leader, there is hope. Don’t miss the opportunity for you as a leader, to develop your own vision. In the absence of a solid corporate vision, leaders develop their own vision as the backbone from which to structure their very corporate existence. How can you plan your daily path to success if you don’t know what success is, or which direction do you need to travel to reach it? And with that, how can you inspire the people you lead, to follow you on an unknown path? Yes, you will continue to do your job, and yes, your subordinates will do the same, but the potential to increase productivity, if everyone <strong>shares</strong> a clear vision, is what drives a good leader to be great.
Take the time, whether your company has a clear vision or not, to meet with your people, and map out a clear vision which you all can share. If you can get that buy-in from your subordinates and determine a clear vision, your job as a leader just got infinitely simpler. Imagine your team constantly coming to you with ideas on how to improve the process, imagine leading a team that knew exactly what needed to be done before you needed to tell them, imagine your team all striving to reach their/your goals with the same or more enthusiasm than you, each and every day. That is nirvana for a leader, that is where you should be, and that is where a shared vision can bring you.
The time you spend meeting and developing your clear, shared vision with your team, will pay itself back in dividends. Your success will be noticed, and soon others will be following in your footsteps. And maybe, just maybe, if your company is one of the few who do not believe in a strong Mission, Vision, and Values, your team’s success will wake them up once and for all.