Top CEOs focus on five things: Vision, Cash, People, Key Business Relationships, and Learning. In this five-part series, I’m going to explore why these five focal points are the best uses of your valuable time, and how each can help Make BIG Happen for your business.
What do you want?
That’s the first question we ask our CEO clients. It’s amazing how many of them can’t come up with a clear answer. If the CEO doesn’t have a clear vision for where the company is going, then who does?
It’s the responsibility of the leader of the company to set the vision, to communicate it, to embed it into the culture of the organization, and to inspire every single employee to Make BIG Happen.
Here’s a simple four-step process that will help you hone your vision and ingrain it in your company’s DNA:
1. Picture BIG success.
Studies show that CEOs and entrepreneurs who have a vision of success are more confident about their goals and their ability to achieve them.
So let me help you visualize: imagine you’re staring into a crystal ball. You can see three years into the future. You’re throwing the biggest company party you’ve ever thrown, and we’re celebrating…What?
That brings us back to my original question: the CEO has to know what he or she wants from the business. What does success mean to you? What is a Huge, Outrageous Target (HOT) you want to hit that would take your business to the next level?
If the vision of success in your crystal ball is cloudy, shake it up and try again. See something specific. See something you can build towards. And above all, see something BIG.
2. Plan your mission.
Vision is your “What.” A mission statement is your “Why.” Why does your company exist? What, ultimately, are you trying to achieve with your vision? Why are you climbing the mountain?
Every successful company has a mission statement, including the absolute top of the top:
“Saving people money so they can live better.” – Walmart
“To be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” – Amazon
“Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” – Facebook
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” – Google
These statements aren’t just buzzwords or bumper stickers: they’re the heart and soul of what these companies are trying to accomplish. Everything Walmart does fulfills its mission of keeping prices low. Everything that Amazon does fulfills its mission of selling everything to everyone online. Everything Facebook does fulfills its mission of connecting people. Everything Google does fulfills its mission of collecting and cataloguing the world’s info.
Maybe your financial advisory firm or staffing company doesn’t have goals that lofty, but you need goals bigger than pure profit, especially if you want to attract young talent and young consumers. Millennials want to feel like their labor and their purchases are a part of something bigger. They want your company to tell them a story, and they want to be able to picture themselves in a starring role.
Vision and mission. It all starts here. Without them, you’ll never set your sights on a HOT that’s going to lead you to BIG growth. You’re doomed to wander aimlessly without the discipline or focus necessary to thrive in a competitive business environment.
If your crystal ball is still murky, here’s a template to help you find your mission:
Our mission is to __________________________ (do what), for _____________ (whom are you doing it for) by __________________ (how do you do it) so _______________ (why you do it).
3. Communicate your vision to your entire staff.
Once upon a time, I needed to give a company I ran a kick in the pants during a rough patch. I needed to inspire everyone working with me to think BIG, and commit to turning around our fortunes. So, I hired a marching band, and rode an elephant into our annual meeting. The next day, little elephants started popping up on desks and cubicles all over the office. Everyone bought into my message, my vision. We all started working and thinking BIG. We didn’t just save the company, we turned it into a thriving business.
Your mode of communication doesn’t have to be that dramatic. But you have to make sure your employees understand your vision, and buy into it. Every meeting with your direct reports should focus on the specific, measurable actions building towards your HOT. Every employee should have a chart taped to his or her wall marking progress towards weekly individual goals that you set. Your business always should be moving TOWARDS something – your vision.
4. Leave the plumbing to your plumbers.
It is a cliché, but it is very true: The leaders of the firm have to work on the business, not in the business.
Too many leaders get caught up in the whirlwind of the day at the expense of focusing on what’s truly important—getting to where they want to go. Many entrepreneurs who have guided their baby from a zero-revenue startup into a growing business have trouble letting go of tasks they’re used to doing themselves. But CEOs who truly perform are the ones who spend significant time, at a high level, executing the vision.
You are your company’s poet. Your job is to dream, to inspire, to learn and grow so that the company can grow to match your ambitions for it.
Low-level customer service complaints? Some squabbles between department heads? Those are problems with the plumbing. Call your plumber, and get back to focusing on the top five activities that only one person can tackle – you, the CEO.
To be continued in Part II: Cash – How Fast Can You Afford to Grow?
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 150 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, becoming better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.