Success Starts with a Shared Vision

There’s a lot of talk about goals this time of year and for good reason. The start of a new year is a natural line of demarcation between old targets and new ones. Not only should you be considering specific, measurable personal goals, you should also be outlining goals for your business, too. While the steps involved in setting can’t miss goals for your business might be similar to the way you approach your personal list of targets, there is one important difference: business goals require group buy-in to be successful.

What does that mean? As a leader, it’s up to you to define where your team is headed. Simply pointing people in the direction you wish them to move isn’t a great recipe for success. You need to create a shared vision.

Vision vs. Goals

Your vision is not your goal. A vision is synonymous with purpose. It should be broad enough to apply to many aspects of your organization, and yet specific enough to meaningfully reflect your brand. “We make stuff” is certainly broad, but it hardly distinguishes your business from every other business. Also, it won’t inspire your team to march forward toward the goals you set. “We believe in empowering individuals to pursue a life they’ll love by providing easily accessible solutions and resources to meet every client’s needs” is more focused without being too narrow.

On the other hand, goals are specific benchmarks that are reflective of your organization’s vision. They have clear, measurable outcomes. “This year we’ll sign new clients” is not a good goal. It’s simply too vague. If you sign one new client within the next 12 months, is that going to be satisfactory? Well, maybe. Perhaps your sales cycle is long and your final deals are large. Perhaps you’re a new business and you’re not quite ready to bring on customers, so having one on your roster by year’s end is going to make you happy. For most, however, one new client isn’t what you’re gunning for. “We’re going to increase our repeat business by 20% this year and grow our customer base by 15%,” is specific and measurable. It’s a good goal.

You can’t have one without the other

A vision sets the tone. It is your shared destination. It’s not, however, your path. Providing a roadmap is far more valuable than simply stating the end result.

Conversely, when you set goals without clarifying your vision, your team lacks a unified purpose. Imagine that there are two rowing teams preparing their boats. One team has been told where the finish line is and has been given a clear set of landmarks to look out for along the route. The other team has simply been told to row as fast and furious as they can in order to beat the other guys. Which team do you think is more likely to be successful? Which boat is more likely to cultivate a positive, healthy work environment where everyone works together to ensure success?

Creating a shared vision

As a leader, you may craft the vision for your organization independently, but you need collective buy-in if you’re going to see it come to fruition. These 3 steps can help you get there:

  1. Be clear about your vision – Clearly communicate this fixed point throughout your organization. This will help others set clear departmental and individual objectives that will propel your business forward in the direction you wish it to go.
  2. Shoot for the moon – Set the bar high. People aren’t inspired by mediocrity. They want to be part of something inspirational. Yes, you want the goal to be attainable, but remember, your vision is long term so dream big! No coach, no matter the sport, begins a new season saying, “Our goal is not be the worst team in the league.” Right? On day one of the season, everyone has their sights set on winning the championship game. Aim high.
  3. Be able to articulate the why. Your vision answers the questions, “What will we be? What are we doing here?” Your goals answer the question, “How are we going to get there?” In between the two is the answer to the question, “Why are we headed in this direction?” If you can’t answer this, you’ll be hard-pressed to find folks willing to along for the ride.