Have you ever been part of a team where everyone was rowing in different directions? It’s like being in a boat where everyone’s paddling their way–you go nowhere fast! And yet, you are always very busy; you have the fake symptom of being productive, but you are only productive if you are in the busyness industry.
This week, I had a fantastic chat about how crucial it is for everyone in an organisation to sync up with what the leaders envision. Direction and Alignment are two faces of the same coin. And to make a team work in a unified dynamic, we need them in equal measurements. A leader must have a clear vision to assemble their people in a joint effort into the company’s odyssey – the Direction. In the same way, a leader must have their people correctly aligned with that vision to bring the boat to a destination – the Alignment.
So, I would love to share some insights about this topic while having a magnificent cup of coffee.
What’s the Big Deal About Vision Anyway?
Think of a vision as the North Star of a company. It is more than just a fancy statement that sounds good in meetings or on any of the company communications. It is the dream, the big goal, the thing that gets everyone out of bed in the morning. And who better to set this dream than the leader itself?
Allow me to recover the 1962 President John F. Kennedy’s speech that drove one entire nation to the dream of space.
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”President John F. Kennedy
One year later, we had another brilliant speech epitome of vision and direction. This time, it was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Once the vision is set, it won’t spread by itself. Leaders need to be like those cool teachers who could make any story captivating. I would say that great leaders must be great storytellers. They’ve got to communicate the vision in a way that gets everyone excited, pumped up, and ready to jump on board.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”Steve Jobs
This quote from Steve Jobs reflects not just his philosophy towards work and innovation but also his talent for inspiring others through his words. It conveys a powerful narrative about passion, perseverance, and satisfaction in one’s professional life, embodying Jobs’ unique ability to connect with his audience on a deeper level. Steve Jobs was a great storyteller!
But it isn’t sufficient to craft the vision. It’s one thing to talk the talk, but walking the walk? That’s where leaders shine. A leader gotta lead. They have to live and breathe this vision, showing everyone they’re 100% in. It’s like being the drummer of a band. I was part of a hard-rock, blues-rock covers band and each time the drummer was not fully locked in, we all had a more difficult time keeping with the tempo and ultimately enjoying the gig. The leader is setting the rhythm for everyone else to follow.
So, let’s recap the first three key ideas:
- A vision is like a North Star.
- A great leader must be a great storyteller.
- A leader must lead by example.
Getting Everyone Aligned
I’ll go ahead and take you into an idyllic scenario. You are in a small canoe with your dearest half in the beautiful Cuomo Lake. You have the vision and direction – to cross the lake to the other shore. But as I wrote at the beginning of this piece, that is just one side of the coin. When you two start rowing, the paddles begin hitting each other. You two need to be appropriately coordinated. You two are not aligned.
With the same effort and dedication that you “sold” the vision of crossing Cuomo Lake, you must work on coordination and alignment. It’s all about ensuring you and your better half get what the vision is all about. It’s like everyone has the same playbook. So before enduring the long journey of crossing that big lake, do some regular chats to promote the vision, do some small rowing workshops, and maybe even some fun team-building activities with friends can help reinforce what your vision is aiming for.
After all, it is like everyone understands the Game Plan.
Cuomo Lake is fantastic, yet crossing it is a long stretch. More than learning how to row (understand the Game Plan) is required. We must ensure that both of us are setting goals that match the endeavour we will face. A leader must ensure that every team, every department – heck, every person in the company should have goals that feed into the organisation big vision. It’s like piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle where every piece is crucial to the big picture.
Ultimately, after rowing several smaller lakes and many beautiful destinations, what you created was more than a vision. You created a culture. You two live and breathe being in the outdoors, enjoying numerous adventures and beautiful destinations. It’s like magic. Things happen where everyone feels part of something bigger, and every day is a step towards something extraordinary – the next trip.
Ok, back to reality. All these are replicable in an organisational setting. So, let us recap.
- Everyone must understand the Game Plan.
- Everyone should set goals that match the vision.
- Leadership are building a culture that rocks!
Tackling the Bumps on the Road
Ahahah, on paper, all these sound amazingly easy to do. But as all of you know, even in a team of two, it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, even more in an organisation with many more people.
We will have to deal with the naysayers. Change can be tough, and there will always be some who are a bit hesitant, to say the least. It’s important for leaders to listen. Hey, I’m talking about active listening – really listening! People can be scared but if you actively listen to their worries, it will be easier for you to show how the vision benefits everyone – not just the company.
If you think that dealing with the naysayers is tough, now comes the real hard part, and I will be splitting it in two to make it a little easier. The vision must be kept fresh. As the company or the organisation grows and changes, so should the vision. It is a living thing, not set in stone. Keeping it relevant and relatable is key to keeping everyone on board. And you, the leader, must check your compass regularly. Are we still on track? Are we moving closer to our vision? Do regular check-ins and open, honest chats. It will help to keep everyone aligned and make tweaks – small adjustments – where needed.
- Leadership Must Deal With The Naysayers.
- Leadership Must Keep The Vision Fresh.
- Leadership Must Check Everyone’s Compass Regularly.
So, there you have it! Getting everyone aligned with the leadership’s vision is a bit like getting all the rowers in a rowing team to row in harmony. It looks beautiful and powerful when done right. It’s about sharing a dream, working towards it together, and having a blast while doing it. Let’s all get on the same wavelength, have fun, and ride the vision to some amazing places!