The most important responsibility you have as a business owner is to Set the Vision. Your Vision is the combination of your Purpose, Values and Mission. The Purpose and Values are at the core of everything your business does and the Mission is the destination that your team will collectively work towards. However, simply deciding on your Vision isn’t enough — you have to be consistent in sharing your Vision with your team so that everyone you work with understands where the company is going and how they can most effectively help in getting there.
Setting the Vision isn’t a box you can tick once and then set aside, it’s an ongoing process that has to happen every single day, in every single interaction you have with your employees, vendors and customers. Learning this crucial skill is an important step in making the transition from entrepreneur to CEO and is an important part of the leadership journey and getting beyond the $1-3 million revenue plateau.
Your team members aren’t mind readers, and that’s why sharing your Vision with your team relies so heavily on your ability to effectively communicate your thoughts and big concepts. Like so many parts of being a great leader, communication is a skill that needs to be practiced and developed.
Think of it like this: if your Vision is the destination, then how you communicate is the GPS that will help your team navigate. Communication is how you avoid falling into the trap of the “Curse of Knowledge.” Wikipedia defines the Curse of Knowledge as:
The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_knowledge)
Too often, we assume that others can understand concepts that may seem simple to us. The assumptions we make about their understanding can lead to miscommunications and a failure to “get on the same page”. And, especially when sharing your Vision with your team, being on the same page is vital. You can’t get where you’re going if everyone is paddling the boat in a different direction.
In their book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,” brothers Chip and Dan Heath outline six key principles that can help you communicate more effectively and avoid the Curse of Knowledge. The principles are:
- Simplicity — the idea needs to be streamlined enough that the audience can understand it
- Unexpectedness — adding an element of surprise can focus people’s attention
- Concreteness — a concrete idea will be much easier to grasp than something nebulous
- Credibility — if you have credibility with your audience, they are more likely to pay attention to what you have to say
- Emotion — triggering an emotional response can make a concept more impactful
- Stories — people connect well with stories as a vehicle to illustrate new ideas or concepts
Using those six principles in your communication can help make what you communicate more “sticky” and can help your audience better understand your message. I highly recommend you read Made to Stick, as the authors do a fantastic job of explaining what makes some ideas “stickier” than others and more impactful on their audience.
Remember, the goal of setting the Vision is to ensure that your team is working together to reach the destination, and they can’t do that if they aren’t sure exactly where that destination is.
That’s why sharing your Vision with your team needs to be clear, unambiguous, and “sticky”. It’s a vital skill you need to develop as part of your leadership journey from entrepreneur to CEO, and being intentional about your communication is key.