Companies that have clear, strong vision and values can weather any storm and conquer any competitor. Many firms have a vision and values statement engraved on a plaque on the wall. And if that’s the extent of it, then you’ve wasted your time.
But smart companies know better.
At CEO Coaching, we have a clear vision for our company and a set of values that guide our day-to-day decision making. For example, one of our company values is courage. To us, this means we must have the courage to:
- Say what needs to be heard
- Do what it takes
- Have difficult conversations
- Trust the process
The above applies both to our clients and our internal team. Take difficult conversations, for example. When we’re coaching a client, we can’t shy away from difficult conversations. When we see an issue that needs to be addressed, we tackle it head-on. You don’t get better by avoiding the elephant in the room.
Here are some other examples of CEO Coaching clients who are clear on their vision and values that illustrate just how important it is to keep your vision and values aligned and communicate both to your employees.
1. Be a pointer.
In a 1962 speech, John F. Kennedy pointed to the moon. He didn’t then go off and build a Space Shuttle. He didn’t train the astronauts. He just pointed at a BIG goal, and the whole country followed him, even after he was gone.
Mutual Capital Alliance CEO and CEO Coaching International advisor Rick Sapio has interviewed more than 40 billionaires in the last decade. “What really inspired me most about billionaires is they point to where they want to go and they inspire people,” Rick says.
Billionaires, effective CEOs, and successful companies, think and act with BIG vision, and can-do bravado. Their targets may not be the Moon, but they’re still clear targets, defined by what Rick calls, “catalyzing statements.” Domino’s famously aimed for pizza delivery in “30 minutes or less.” Volvo set its sights on making the safest cars in the world. Bill Gates envisioned a computer on every desktop.
Early in my own career, I rode an elephant into an annual meeting to rally my employees around my vision!
How are you inspiring your employees? Do they all know where you’re pointing? Do they know the specific, measurable, actionable steps they have to take to get there?
2. Your company’s culture is your strongest manager.
TaskUs is one of CEO Coaching International’s most successful clients. Since 2008, the company has grown from a struggling start-up run by two entrepreneurs out of their parents’ houses into the leading provider of customer care and back-office outsourcing to evolving businesses around the world.
As the company grew, co-founder Jaspar Weir knew that the only way to keep 8,000 millennial employees all over the world focused on the same mission was to stick to a set of core values:
- Inspire others by believing in yourself.
- Do more with less.
- Be ridiculous.
- Teamwork makes a dream work.
- Continuous self-improvement.
- Always strive for excellence.
- Exercise emotional intelligence.
Sounds like a mouthful, but Jaspar says, “I would bet almost every single one of our 8000-plus employees could tell you all of our core values — because we reinforce them.” For example, TaskUs makes a habit of concluding its meetings by having employees recognize each other for exhibiting a core value in their work performance that week.
TaskUs also uses these principles as part of their annual employee reviews. Jaspar says these reviews are “constantly reinforcing behavior and using these critical coaching moments, especially when they’re constructive feedback, to create these patterns within our employees where they really recognize the behavior and correlate it to a core value.”
3. When things get tough, let your vision and core values guide you.
Every business goes through tough times. The ones that turn themselves around have the courage to double-down on their vision and values.
Sarah Dusek, from glamping firm Under Canvas, faced just such a crossroads when the company was experiencing a cash crunch. A $7 million financing deal was there for the taking, but Sarah felt uneasy about the terms, and how the potential new partners might affect her company’s core values.
Sarah turned the money down. “We chose to sacrifice the investment on the altar of our values,” she says. “If we were going to take this money, we felt like our values would be compromised in a really big way and would potentially change the direction of the company. We aren’t going to compromise, and we aren’t going to back down from who we believe we are.”
Do you have that same level of conviction in your vision, your values? When your back is to the wall – and at some point, it will be – are you going to compromise for a quick fix? Or are you a bold CEO who knows who you are, what you want, and what you have to do to get it?
Only the CEO can establish the clear sense of purpose that every successful company needs. If you have vision and values in place, they’ll be there for you when you need them the most, and help keep you on track to making BIG happen.
About Mark Moses
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 from 17 countries 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.