With the dawn of a new year, leaders should use this time to reflect thoughtfully about their actions and their teams. I suspect most leaders have been preaching the virtues of speed, resilience and adaptability. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, this is understandable.
I also suspect many leaders are feeling a loss of connectivity, both with the people on their teams and to their organization’s purpose. When it comes to the former, there’s no doubt that remote work is making it harder. When it comes to the latter, moving fast to meet daily firestorms prevents leaders from finding effective ways to connect activities back to the organization’s purpose.
Refocusing on your mission creates a stronger sense of connection. It also prevents against burnout and teammate disengagement. When all we do is work from task-to-task, we start to become disengaged.
2021 should be a year of renewed commitment to communicating your organization’s vision and purpose.
Research Shows the Importance of Purpose.
Consider this from a 2017 Harvard Business Review article on motivating employees: “Research shows that once a task becomes familiar, our brains devote far less cognitive resources to it. One of the downsides of this brilliant evolutionary design is that we disconnect. We stop seeing past our work to the people we affect.” This is dangerous territory. We all know the perils of teams and organizations with disengaged workers.
On the flip side, research shows organizations with a strong sense of purpose perform better. A few years back, a Deloitte study found that more than 80% of respondents who worked full-time for a company with a strong sense of purpose were confident their company would grow that year. Respondents at less purposeful organizations felt only 48% confident. Deloitte chairman Punit Renjen said, “Evidence is mounting that focusing on purpose rather than profits is what builds business confidence.”
When we have confidence, whether that’s in business, sports or any other venture, we have an advantage and powerful resource.
3 Ways to Communicate Your Purpose and Vision
So how should leaders communicate and share their organization’s vision and purpose? Here are some ideas:
1. Use Storytelling
Research confirms stories are a powerful way to make connections with people. Our brains are hardwired to remember stories about people or events much better than statics or information.
If you’re a leader, try to use stories in your weekly team meetings and when the opportunity best presents itself.
I would often remind my employees why I started Spaulding Communications. I had just been “downsized” from an integrated advertising-PR agency. I was despondent. But, I felt like I could create a meaningful business. I envisioned a firm where my employees and I would be true communication experts for our clients. I wanted to build an agency that would ALWAYS put its people and clients at the center of every decision, not just profits or revenue.
The story was about me, my journey and my vision. It was personal. There was a sense of conflict and resolution. By sharing my story, it allowed my teammates, clients and other partners to join in on a common journey.
I’m sure leaders have their own personal stories they can share. Take time to communicate your stories and make it personal.
2. Document and Ritualize It
To make a vision come to life, it must be documented and ritualized so that it can be woven into your organization’s culture. As leaders, we need to recognize our teammates, customers and partners who are bringing the vision to life. This documenting and ritualizing can take multiple forms.
- Awards – Consider creating an award for those who best live out the vision.
- Website/Social media – Share how your organization’s purpose comes to life on social media. Consider videos testimonials and stories.
- Team Meetings – Take time to talk about your mission during team meetings. One company, VitalSmarts, does this during their monthly all-hands meeting. They call it the Mission Moment. It is an opportunity for everyone to share stories about the impact their work has on their own lives and the people they serve.
- Professional Development — At Spaulding Communications, it is part of our mission to be the best professional communicators we can be in order to better serve our clients. To put that into practice, we ensure our employees receive professional training in specific communication areas. We allocate budget toward that. And we monitor progress in that area during annual performance reviews.
3. Listen and Hone
It’s essential to listen, gather feedback and hone your approach. Leaders should take care to hear what their staff is saying – and not saying. Are the stories and messages you’re sharing resonating with your team? Do members of your team have a different perspective of the vision that needs to be shared? Whose voices are not being heard or included?
By actively listening and soliciting feedback, teams and organizations can get sharper at communicating their vision. They can also ensure more people are part of the process, thus further strengthening the organization.
Next Steps: Take Action to Turn Vision into Culture
2020 was, to put it kindly, a “learning moment” for all of us. Let’s use the lessons from this year to turn 2021 into a new and inspiring year.
Leaders only have two things to work with: Words and actions. When it comes to sharing your organization’s vision, be sure your words and actions are aligned. When that’s done, leaders can inspire and engage people in the meaningful work we all desire.
If you’re looking for ways to better communicate your vision in 2021, consider this:
Team Training for Vision Setting – We offer a truly unique 1-day team training session. Conducted in historic Princeton, N.J., participants learn George Washington’s brilliant leadership during the critical winter of 1776. We reveal the timeless leadership techniques Washington used to keep his ragtag army together by focusing on vision. Participants come away with a new sense of camaraderie and practical ways to see their own organization’s vision come to life. For details, please visit our Washington Leadership Program page.
Contact Us – If you would like to discuss a customized way to communicate and share your organization’s vision and purpose, please contact Matt Spaulding at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-324-6031.
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