Realizing one’s dreams is a key element of success. Bringing your dreams to fruition requires a great vision. Behind every great vision is a dream, and behind every great vision is a plan. Successful CEOs cultivate the skill to inspire by having a clear vision and culture. Vision and culture creates the momentum needed to keep the train moving down the track. There are two key elements to the vision as I define vision, 1) the vision statement, and 2) the big-picture for the company. The vision statement must clearly focus externally to have the greatest impact. The vision should convey the loftiest results for all stakeholders. “The primary task of leadership is to communicate the vision and the values of an organization. Second, leaders must win support for the vision and the values they articulate. And third, leaders must reinforce the vision and the values [FedEx Chairman and CEO, Frederick Smith.]” (Collingswood and Kirby 2002). The big-picture is both internally and externally focused. The big vision helps others to see the company as it will be in the future. The big vision should include statements such as: we will have 12 locations in the state, our revenue will be $25m, and we will employ 75 employees within the next five to seven years. Dreams translate into visions and big-pictures.
Communicating the vision is the chief task of every successful CEO. Get the train moving with real purpose and passion. Don’t assume people know what you are trying to build. Talk about your vision at every event, staff meeting, and coaching session. Communicating your vision fuels the locomotive that pulls the train down the track. Your vision must be connected to the purpose and passion in the business. Visions, purpose, and passion are inspirational. Keep the focus on the vision and your people will be motivated, driven, and committed to the cause. Promote your vision because no one else will.
Achieving excellence is the goal. Upholding your culture (vision, values, and mission) falls into the hands of leadership as well as the CEO. The CEO and leadership must support and advocate for what they believe. “Communicate, communicate, communicate! You cannot be a remote image. You’ve got to be touched, felt, heard and believed. And you’ve got to stand up for what you stand for. When the company comes under attack -- whether it’s from Washington, the competition, or industry analysts -- you’ve got to be out there taking the brunt of whatever it is and lead by example [Former AT&T CEO, Mike Armstrong.]” (Neff et al. 1999) Promoting and upholding your business culture demonstrates to the ranks and the marketplace what really matters about your organizational backbone and strategy. Living your culture is what keeps the train moving down the track at high-speed.
Inspiration is one of the most important responsibilities of the CEO and the leadership team. Your dream must be big enough to inspire your people, clients, and market place. Your dream must be translated into a company vision and big picture vision. What gets people truly excited about what you do? What keeps your people engaged and committed? Inspiration is attractive and draws people in, contrary to pushing people away. Revealing and communicating your passion and defining the company’s purpose motivates people. Motivated people are driven to accomplish much more than they ever would otherwise. What will you do to inspire your world?
Collingswood H, Kirby J.: All in a day’s work, in Harvard Business Review on Becoming a High Performance Manager. Edited by Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, 2002
Neff T, Citrin J, and Brown P: Lessons from the Top: The Search for America’s Best Business Leaders. New York, Currency Doubleday 1999