Developing A Team Vision Statement That Inspires Commitment and Performance

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Developing a team vision is your first step in inspiring your people to want to be at, and give of their best. Your Vision declares "what we are here to do".

When you get the 'what' right, you'll find the inspiration and the desire for the 'hows'.

Hugely successful organization's such as Apple, Zappos, Netflix, Virgin, Southwest Airlines, and Google all have compelling visions. Their vision's galvanize the entire organization and compel people to take inspired action so they deliver their vision.

Keep this in mind when developing a team vision statement:

The purpose of your vision statement is to stretch boundaries and comfort zones. To enable people within the organization to have a sense of what could be.

Back in the 1980's Microsoft's vision of, "A computer in every home running Microsoft software" may have seemed absurd to most people. In fact, it was likely there were people within Microsoft trying to water this vision down. Yet, this rallying cry drove Microsoft's success.

Your vision statement drives behaviors, creativity, commitment, engagement and determination.

If your vision statement opens people's eyes to what is possible, and inspires them to work toward achieving it, then it has served its purpose well.

You, the leader, must constantly and energetically remind and rally people to the vision.

The Elements Of A Good Vision Statement

Keep this list handy as you are developing your team vision statement - and check regularly that your statement gets a tick against each element:

  • Sets a standard of excellence
  • Clarifies direction and purpose
  • Inspires enthusiasm and commitment
  • Bridges the present and future
  • Is clear and easy to understand
  • Is ambitious (not limited by current circumstances or what is perceived to be possible)

The Steps in Developing A Team Vision Statement:

  1. Make it big enough that there will always be passion and energy as you grow toward it
  2. Word it, so it serves as an energy source and rallying point for the organization
  3. Imagine it is 10 years out, and you are being interviewed by Oprah, what have you achieved, what difference have you made, what are you proud of
  4. Write it in the present tense
  5. Make it emotive - you want to stir passion
  6. Summarize the Vision Statement into a powerful phrase, that people can easily grasp: for example, NASA's "Put a man on the moon by the end of the decade" was the central focus for thousands of people, who worked in that organization, and each one of them knew that no matter what role they fulfilled they were part of the team putting a man on the moon.

When you are developing a team vision statement, you are always dealing with the future. You are describing the destination towards which you are aiming.

You are not setting out how you are going to arrive - that comes later as you develop your Mission Statement.


Examples of Vision Statements:

Your vision statement is never static. It's dynamic and designed to set free an organization's energy.

Apple: We are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.We don't settle for anything less than excellence

Disneyland: Create a place for people to find happiness and knowledge

Southwest Airlines: To connect people to what's important in their lives though friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel

Ford: (old) Produce a car that everyone can afford

Girl Scouts: Help a girl reach her highest potential

Cirque du Soleil: Invoke the Imagination; Provoke the Senses; Evoke the Emotions

Zappos: The online service leader

The most powerful vision statements, generally involve and energize people throughout the organization. It gives them a cause to rally behind, feel engaged by, and see that what they are doing is worthy.

For example: You could create a vision statement that says:

Frozen Food that tastes as good as Mum's

Short and sharp... it's a good vision statement. To get people to rally behind it they need to understand why this is important. So whilst you may have that short eight word sentence as your rallying call - sitting behind it will be a longer description which will include an intent statement like:

"Achieving this vision means that we provide wholesome nutritious food to families, and children in particular. It means that we will be able to enhance the health of our customers and thus raise the quality of life of our community."


Communicating The Vision - The Leaders Role

It is the role of the leader to be the direction setter and spokesperson for the Vision Statement and breathe life into the Vision.

This story illustrates:

There were three men laying bricks.

The first is asked "What are you doing?" ... "Laying these darn bricks"

The second is asked "What are you doing?" ... "Feeding my family"

The third is asked "What are you doing?" ... "I'm part of the team building a cathedral so that people can come and worship to their God and feel at peace"

The third bricklayer is energized by a vision that transforms, the actual task work being done, into an achievement that is far greater than he alone could attain.


How To Bring A Vision To Life

The vision is more than just words on paper. Never simply draft the vision statement and post it in books, wall hangings or on coffee mugs... that won't create the culture or the passion that you want.

You must use your vision and mission statements as you make decisions each day.

Decisions on who you are going to recruit into your team ... if they don't Believe (one of the 4 Bs of High-Performance), in the vision of the organization, you'll have to work that much harder to keep them engaged.

Decisions on how you allocate resources and time. You and your people must constantly ask, "Will this move us toward or away from our vision."

Nurturing the culture of the business and providing direction is THE most important role of the leader. Communicating the vision is something that the leader must live and breath.

Use metaphors, stories and examples to continually connect people to the bigger vision of why they are doing what they are doing.

Curious to discover more about the 4Bs of High-Performance and how to bring the vision to life, so it engages people? In the training Managing The People Side of Change In The Workplace, I describe in detail how to weave stories with your people, so that they are inspired to move toward the vision.

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