Set The Vision: The First Secret to Growing Your 7-Figure Business
In a previous post, I outlined the 7 Secrets to Growing Your 7-Figure Business without Burning Out. I covered each of the secrets fairly quickly. I’ve decided to include a more in-depth post for each of the 7 secrets.
The first secret to growing your 7-figure business without burning out is to ‘Set the Vision.’
People Crave Clarity
People want to follow a leader who helps everyone get really clear about where they are headed together and how they will get there. Sadly, instead of thriving with visionary leaders, most people work for or with visionless leaders.
Visionless leaders often see employees as “not getting it” or as “just punching a clock”. They often wonder why their people aren’t acting as owners. What they fail to realize is that their inability to set a clear Vision for people, keeps them from making decisions an owner would make.
Hearing the Music
Why would a business owner fail to help their people see where they need to go and the chosen path to get there? The answer is found in a human tendency to assume everyone else knows what we know.
Some people call it ‘the curse of knowledge’. Brothers Chip and Dan Heath describe it as ‘hearing the music’. In their book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan describe an experiment where someone taps the rhythm of a song to someone else. The person listening to the rhythmic tapping tries to guess what song was being tapped.
The vast majority of the time, the person hearing the taps doesn’t name the correct song. The tapper is completely incredulous (and can even get really frustrated) that the hearer of the taps can’t guess the song being tapped out.
Why is the tapper so perplexed by this? The answer is simply that the tapper can hear the music in their head while they tap out the beat of the song to the other person.
It’s common for a leader to hear the music in their head while they tap tap away to their team members. Meanwhile, the team doesn’t know what the song is and wishes that the leader would help them get clear.
How well do you Set the Vision with your team? Are you growing in frustration thinking that everyone should be hearing the music but somehow seems to be missing it?
The good news here is that anyone can Set the Vision powerfully with their team. You just need a little structure and a few tips.
Structure and Some Tips
The definition I use for Vision comes from Jim Collins. It isn’t actually a vision statement. Rather, leaders who are good at Setting the Vision help their companies get really clear on their Purpose, their Values and their Mission.
Said another way, effective leaders help everyone involved with their business understand the ‘Why we do what we do’ (the Purpose), the ‘How we do our work’ or the ‘Who are the right people to involve’ (the Values), and the specific ‘What we are up to right now’ (the Mission).
I believe Simon Sinek has it right when he advocates to “start with why”. Whether in an organizational or personal effectiveness context, you need to be really clear about why you are doing something.
The questions you might ask to elicit the right kind of thinking from you and your team are:
- What’s our purpose for being?
- What’s the greater meaning behind what we do?
- What’s the impact we want to have on the world?
- What is our cause?
- What is our why?
- Why does this business deserve to have life?
Once you get clear on the Purpose, it doesn’t change, and it guides all of your decision making. As Jim Collins describes it, your Purpose becomes your guiding star. You don’t accomplish it. You simply align everything you do to it.
Here are a handful of my favorite examples of Purpose from some of our customers:
“We help pilots bring everyone home safely.” (pilot upset recovery training company)
“Building a brighter future for generations.” (construction company that works on power plants)
“To fund people’s dreams.” (cashflow planning software company)
“We change lives from the core.” (ab exercise equipment company)
“To guide people through adversity to their best possible outcome.” (personal injury law firm)
If Purpose is the ‘Why’, then Values are the ‘How’. You can also think of them as the ‘Who’ (as in, they will represent the core attitudes and behaviors of the people who belong in your business).
Values represent our core beliefs and our way of being. The way you know what someone values is to watch their behaviors. Once the Values are in place for your company, the essence (or core) should never change.
Ann Rhoades, author of Built on Values, spoke at one of our Elite Momentum events and reminded us that doing Values work is meaningless if you don’t identify the desired behaviors for each of the stated Values.
By now you’ll know it is no surprise that I love the way Jim Collins talks about identifying the Values of your organization. He would describe it as an articulation exercise (describing what is) and not an aspirational exercise (writing what we hope to become).
As the leader, you may be tempted to do this work on your own or only with 2-3 key leaders. However, it will be far more effective if you enroll the people who are already the embodiment of the Values to help you put words to the way they consistently act.
The best way I know to do the work of articulating Values is to schedule 60-90 minute meetings once a week for 4-6 weeks. Start with a list of Values and narrow them down through discussion with the team until you come up with the Core Values of your company. In between meetings you can move the conversation forward during everyday interactions.
I like Values that are descriptive in nature instead of one word Values and recommend narrowing down to 5-7 Core Values. Here are some examples:
- We genuinely care
- We own it
- We do what we say we’ll do
- We believe work should be fun
- We are dynamic and decisive
- We build trust
- We invest in growth
- We face challenges with optimism
- We check our egos at the door
- We innovate and constantly improve
- We believe in people and their dreams
Once the ‘Why’ and the ‘How’ are clear, it’s time to define the ‘What’. Nothing is more galvanizing to a team than a clearly stated, exciting objective. Again, most businesses get this wrong. They hang a ‘Mission Statement’ on the wall that is more like a never-ending statement of work.
You’ll want to create a Current Mission that has a clearly-defined outcome by a specified date. It may help to think of this in military terms… “Our objective is to take control of that hill before dawn!” In other words, you will accomplish X specific objective by Y point in time.
Unlike your Purpose or Values, the Current Mission should be achievable, and, when you have completed it, you will create a new Mission. I recommend selecting a specific time somewhere in the 3-5 year timeframe. 3 years is my preference.
It needs to be close enough for people to be able to see themselves at the finish line but far enough away to leave enough runway to create a new future. The Mission needs to be big enough to excite people and maybe even make them a little nervous (think BHAG) but grounded enough to keep belief of success high.
- “Provide life-saving upset training to 25,000 pilots annually by 2020 within an inspiring culture”
- “To become the preferred power generation support company in Arizona by 2023”
- “To beautify over 160 spaces, while maintaining net profits above 15% by the end of 2020.”
- “To become known as the #1 B2B telecom company by WOWing 15,000 clients and bringing their phone and wifi systems into the 21st century by 2020.”
- “To double the size of 100 local small businesses by 2019.”
- “To help 1000 elite entrepreneurs grow meaningful businesses by 2021.”
A Word of Caution…
The only thing worse than visionless leadership is to Set a Vision but then not behave consistent with it. In other words, if you claim that one of your Values is, ‘We do what we say we’ll do,’ you better keep commitments when you make them.
If you (and/or other team members) consistently fail to behave as expected by the Values, people will write them off as things we don’t really mean to live.
Show me a company full of behaviors that are inconsistent with the Vision of the company, and I’ll show you a disaster. Failure to align everyone’s behavior to the Vision may as well mean there is no Vision.
In my opinion, having people who punch a clock without clarity is far better than the destructive effects of stating one thing but doing another.
Working for a Purpose or Only Working for Your Money
One of my favorite quotes from Simon Sinek that illustrates the effect of Setting the Vision with your team is, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”
Business owners who figure out this first secret to growing your 7-figure business without burning out find that running a business gets more fun and effective. It will also lighten the load they feel on their shoulders.
Setting the Vision powerfully for your company is the foundation on which you will build your 7-figure business, and it changes the way your employees show up every day.
If you’d like to improve your ability to Set the Vision powerfully in your company and want to ensure you get it right, we can help!
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