I Can See Clearly Now: Define Your Vision for the Company
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.
One of the key components of any business plan is the CEO’s vision. Your vision defines your company’s goals and ambitions and should be ingrained into your organization’s culture and environment. Without a clear vision in place, how will your team know what to work toward?
To help you get started, I’ll cover what developing a strategic vision for a company entails, along with how to get employees to buy into your vision, tips for communicating company values to employees, and how the five areas CEOs focus on should be integrated into your organization.
Defining a company vision
Your company’s vision statement sets the tone for the goal your organization is trying to achieve in the future. It’s important not to confuse your vision statement with your mission statement. Your mission statement is different in that it defines what your business does, including its objectives and how they will be reached.
While both your vision and mission statement are essential components of any business plan, it’s important to understand the distinction to ensure they complement each other, which we’ll cover in further detail later on. For now, let’s focus on your company’s vision and what it entails.
What developing a strategic vision for a company entails
As you now know, a company’s vision statement is forward-thinking and outlines the goals it’s trying to achieve in the future. However, vision statements differ from business to business, so how do you define your own? Developing a strategic vision for a company entails several key components. As you sit down to create your strategic vision, ensure they contain the following components:
- Goals: Your company’s goals are essential, as they give you and your team something to work toward. Knowing your goals will tell you where you need to end up in order to take your organization to the next level. Plus, your goals help motivate and inspire your team to accomplish things they never thought possible. To set clear goals, be as detailed as possible, and use tools to measure the progress of your goals. With metrics in place, you’ll be able to see where you are and where you’re headed.
- Values: Your values are just as important as your goals. Company values describe the beliefs and principles that power your business. Values can take many forms, such as singular words like “innovative,” or be more detailed, like “empowering others to reach new heights.” No matter how you decide to describe your values, make sure you do. Communicating company values to employees is also important.
With a set of values in place, it will help empower your team and create a more positive culture. Plus, these values will show your team what you expect of them and how they should conduct themselves.
- Mission Statement: Your company’s mission statement is essential for your vision statement. Your mission statement defines your objectives and looks at where your organization currently is. Your vision statement will build off of your mission statement to show how your company will progress into the future. Communicating your mission statement to employees can help set the tone for accomplishing your goals and reaching your vision.
- Timeline: Your vision statement shouldn’t be vague. Instead, it should be extremely detailed with a set timeline that holds you and your team accountable by providing milestones for you to reach. By creating a timeline with milestones, you’ll be able to celebrate small victories along the way that will boost morale and increase motivation.
These are the main components that developing a strategic vision for a company entails. With these pieces in place, you can ensure you’ve created a clearly defined vision that helps your company grow.
Start with the end goal
The first question we ask our CEOs is, “What do you want?” 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.
By starting with your end goal, you’ll be able to better articulate your organization’s vision. Communicating vision and strategy to your team will get them on board and help you take your company to the next level.
Here’s a simple four-step process that will help you hone your vision and ingrain it into your company’s DNA:
1. Dream BIG and define 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 toward. And above all, see something BIG.
There are several ways you can define success. Some tips to help you get started include:
- Measuring the growth of your company
- Evaluating company culture
- Comparing where you stand with competitors
- Rating job satisfaction
- Calculating profits
These are some of the key metrics you can use to help you define success. Once you know what success will look like for you, you’ll be able to create a vision that can help get you there.
2. Difference between mission and vision
As we now know, your vision statement is forward-thinking, while your mission statement defines the business of your company. Now, let’s take a closer look at the differences between your company’s mission and vision. 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.”– Meta
- “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 Meta does fulfills its mission of connecting people. Everything Google does fulfills its mission of collecting and cataloging the world’s info.
Maybe your financial advisory firm or staffing company doesn’t have goals that are 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. Communicating company values to employees
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 TOWARD something: your vision.
So, how do you get employees to buy into your vision? It all starts with communication. Communicating vision and strategies to employees boosts transparency and ensures everyone on your team is aligned, working toward the same goal. Some tips on how to get employees to buy into your vision include:
- Actively listen: Listening to what your employees have to say can ensure your mission, values, and vision remain aligned. Active listening shows your teams that their voices are heard and their feedback is taken seriously.
- Provide rewards: Positive reinforcement is a great way to get employees on board. So, when milestones are met or the mission is carried out, reward your staff with a bonus of your choice, such as a monetary reward, day off, or a gift.
- Solicit feedback: To ensure your missions are being carried out to reach your vision, take time to observe your workplace, including your employees’ body language and job satisfaction. If they’re not excited about the work they’re doing, you’ll need to regroup to get everyone on board.
These are just some of the ways you can start communicating your mission statement to employees to reach 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.
At CEO Coaching International, we know it can be challenging to know how to get employees to buy into your vision. We have proven executive coaching results that can help you grow as a leader and create a vision that propels your organization forward.
Whether you need coaching for CEOs or coaching for executive teams, our one-on-one and team coaching programs provide individualized coaching to meet your organization’s needs, so you can grow both personally and professionally.
The Make BIG Happen System
Learn more about the proven methodology for CEOs, entrepreneurs, presidents and founders of companies that helps them drive extraordinary growth in their businesses. The rhythms, the questions and the tools are all explained.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make BIG Happen. 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.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 67.8% during their time as a client, nearly four times the U.S. average and a revenue CAGR of 25.5%, more than twice the U.S. average.