Have you ever set a goal, reached it, then felt unfulfilled or empty afterward? Well, that's the difference between a leadership goal and a leadership vision. Which one do you have?
Years ago, a CEO's goal was to build his company up to $50 million dollars. It was a complete blur when he looked back and reflected on his business and how far it's come. It all happened so quickly. The CEO was in a hurry to get things done, running as fast as possible to hit that goal.
In moments of reflection, he began to feel empty. He realized he barely knew his kids, he was half-heartedly listening to his wife for all those years, and he felt like his marriage was hanging on by a thread.
The CEO had so many employees and people come and go that he couldn't recall more than ten people off the cuff. It was all done in the spirit of growing the business for that $50 million goal.
Today, as he sits in his office all alone thinking about what's next, he realizes that he's tired, worn out, and miserable without a friend to confide in. He gets up from his desk, pulls himself together, and resets the next goal to $75 million. Why? Because the pursuit of that goal is what brings him the energy needed to step forward.
A CEO builds his vision for his business. He starts with the end in mind. He lays out his core values, not some platitude about how his business will be transparent or honest. No, he defines a core value that the employees will always put their families first. He encourages them to never respond to an email on a weekend or vacation. He invites his team to be a part of the Vision Building Process.
The vision starts with how the team will build an intelligent data system that will make computers wildly efficient. They believe that smart data systems will help countless people. In addition to creating a company vision, the CEO also encourages all of his employees to have a vision for their lives.
One employee had a vision of spending countless hours of his life taking his family on wild vacations and adventures. Another employee had the vision to have the best marriage his family lineage has ever seen. Yet another employee had a vision of creating a non-profit for kids with leukemia. One employee had a vision of coming up with the next quantum computing chip to unlock speeds unknown to man.
The company had hit $50 million in a flash. Today, as he sits in a meeting, he looks around at all those employees, and he thinks about how much he loves them and how much they've grown. He tells the team they hit their goal for this year of $50 million, and says, “Let's go celebrate together. Tomorrow, we'll reevaluate our vision, just like we do every day to stay on our leadership journey.”
An effective leader is a person who creates and shares an inspiring vision of the future. They then train, educate, motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision.
Leaders still set specific target goals that are essentially stepping stones to move their team toward their collective vision. Leadership goals can be set for business results, skills, knowledge, training, etc.
Research by Rungway's Small Business "found that 52% of employees can't recite their organization's vision, and 49% can't recite their organization's values."
The ability to visualize and compose a possible future state for an organization or company has always been a vital component of successful leadership. When initially describing someone as a "great business leader," the instant reaction is often to say something about their strategic ability or vision.
You hear many stories of great CEOs and their strategic prowess. But you've also heard of the downfall of many failed CEOs. In studying many failed leadership examples, a common denominator is that their teams never bought into the company vision because everything was too transactional and less transformational on the people.
As a leader, it's essential to plan for you and your company. It's important to look ahead to best navigate unexpected challenges and pivotal moments, like when it comes to managing your team, managing up holding yourself accountable, etc. Having a vision helps a leader be prepared for the future. When you and your team have a vision, the big decisions of always doing what’s right have already been made.
A leadership goal will often leave you feeling empty. It's essential to have a vision for your company to always be striving for more and never be left empty. A vision is often much bigger than you and your team could have ever imagined. What’s your company vision?