In a recent post, I mentioned some things I heard and learned from Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A. One of them was:
“The bigger the vision the easier to sell to your team. Small dreams don’t inspire others.”
That got me thinking about vision and why it might or might not be important for everyone on the team to understand the vision.
I believe Dan Cathy would say it is important for everyone to understand the vision. He didn’t say it directly. But the way he spoke about service, and culture, and what we know about the company and its service culture, leads me to believe that he wants every employee to feel passionately about their customers and go the extra mile for them because of that understanding.
It certainly is consistent with many/the majority of leadership and business writings today. Simon Sinek built a foundation for it with his book “Start with Why.” Articles and books about transformation point out how a leader can make the transformation successful if they are relentless about speaking to their teams about the vision and modeling the expected behaviors. And we know the most successful companies are the ones where employees are empowered to act on the customer’s behalf, with the trust that they know the vision and will therefore make decisions in line with that vision.
It’s so hard though. There is so much noise. At least a couple of times a week my team catches itself realizing we’re frustrated that someone hasn’t heard a message – only to realize after discussion that the well-crafted and clear message was only delivered once, via email. And of course we then start to develop a more robust communication plan. Communicating vision effectively requires a relentless, maniacal repetition to as many people in as many ways as you can muster.
But the reward for that investment of time and energy is a team that feels motivated. A team that feels empowered and ownership in their work. A team that will fight through the inevitable failures and setbacks because they know where we are trying to go. Vision gives people hope and purpose. And those are two things we can definitely use more of!