March 2013

In This Issue









Much has been written about the importance, power and impact of a corporate vision in order to foster a meaningful corporate culture. In reality, most companies do not have a vision that inspires and motivates their employees resulting in the attendant benefits not being realized. King Solomon said that without a vision, people perish. I think he was on to something. This helps explain why many talented employees are not engaged in their jobs and end up performing at mediocre or substandard levels or simply leaving for perceived greener pastures.

If your firm has a vision statement that is meaningful, and is used by the executive team through to management and front line employees to make key decisions, your firm is very unique. Furthermore, if it has shaped and influenced your core values, you are likely experiencing a significant difference in the way your people act, think and treat your clients and each other. On a personal level, it can even affect your decisions, actions and the trust levels within the firm. Three questions I typically ask relating to the application of a company's vision statement are:

What? — What does the vision really communicate and how does it provide direction for how we think and conduct ourselves? What does the vision reveal about our corporate DNA and what we value and are committed to? Is it inspiring and does it move people at a deep and even profound level?

So What? — So what does it mean to employees when they are face-to-face with a client, supplier, or colleague? How does the vision enable them to make decisions that go beyond simply making a good financial decision and contribute to building strong relationships with your stake holders and communities?

Now What? — How does it impact my personal conduct and actions? Do they reflect the vision? How do I make decisions, treat people and perform my work?

Consider that without a vision for what we are doing and striving to achieve, we have no context for feedback or input we receive. We may try to become all things to all people, meet everyone's expectations, and end up meeting no one's, including our own. With a clear vision and purpose, we can use feedback to grow, improve and achieve integrity between our words and actions.

Before you write all this talk of vision off as one more "soft" thing that gets in the way of doing business, consider the following findings on the power of vision. A Harvard study, conducted by John Kotter and Jim Heskett with 207 companies in 22 industries spanning over 11 years, revealed that companies with vision-led cultures outperformed those with none. Four key performance criteria were identified.

If you are in a leadership or management role, it's less about what you say and more about what you do that demonstrates your commitment to yor vision . The bottom line is that companies with vision-led cultures significantly outperform those without one.

Remember Solomon's words and create a vision to thrive, be fully engaged and to build a truly exceptional organization.

"Most companies' vision and mission statements are useless. Where as a good vision statement can inspire loyalty, hard work and innovation, most of the framed statements hanging on the walls of businesses are nothing more than a description of what the company does."

Simon Sinek

© 2013 Ralph Kison


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