Are you leading your business in living colour?
Thursday, June 21 2012
IT’s no coincidence that God created us as visual beings with INCREDIBLE imagination. Our eyes take in four million bytes of information every second and process that data forming colourful 3D pictures in our minds. JK Rowling bestselling creator of Harry Potter says it best, “We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
Yet when it comes to our businesses we get all serious like and important sounding, telling our staff that they must follow the company’s mission and vision which usually takes the shape of something along the lines of:
• To be the number one service provider of X
• To be the number one company in our industry
• To be recognised as a worldwide leader in excellence
I can’t tell you which of the above three statements are mission or vision, and don’t be angry that I seem not to care, since most business owners, when asked what their business mission and vision statements are, give the same answer for both.
A post in Mindtools, an online resource for management, career and training solutions, describes Mission and Vision Statements as “inspiring words chosen by successful leaders to clearly and concisely convey the direction of the organisation. By crafting a clear mission statement and vision statement, you can powerfully communicate your intentions and motivate your team or organisation to realise an attractive and inspiring common vision of the future.”
Look at those three statements again and ask yourself: “Am I inspired and/or motivated by these statements?” OF COURSE NOT! Yet we follow blindly on behind those who went before us, creating uninspiring statements that hang on our walls, watered down and meaningless. Why?
Perhaps because, according to Richard Branson in his latest book Screw Business as Usual “Business leaders take things far too seriously. They forget that people spend most of their lives at work, and it should be fun. That should almost go without saying. But I’m afraid that in a lot of companies, it doesn’t go without saying.”
Our imagination is extremely powerful. Years ago I remember reading about the power of radio advertising over television and print advertising. It was simply this: If there is a commercial let’s say for dog food – the television and print ad would show a dog. That dog may look like your dog, but chances are it does not resemble your dog at all. With the radio ad you personalise it using your imagination by either thinking about your own dog or imagining the dog you’d like to own. Although strictly an audio experience, the imagery in radio advertising is only limited by listeners’ imaginations. Listeners may visualise the ad’s content however they please. I’m sure you will agree with me: - the more we can get our customers emotionally involved the more likely they are to buy. Likewise the more we can get employees emotionally involved, the more they will BUY INTO our business mission and vision.
So let me quickly clear up the difference between the two with a definition, which in my opinion is the best definition yet by Rosa Say, author of Managing With Aloha “your mission is what you do best every day, and your vision is what the future looks like because you do that mission so exceedingly well. “
She goes on to say, “You don’t need your mission or your vision to state the obvious; you want them to state the exceptional and extraordinary, to boast of your edge-teetering leaps of faith, and the wild dreamings of every possibility you want explored every single day. You need them to create chatter, thrilled whispers, passionate debate and evangelism. You want people inside and outside your organisation to talk about them constantly because they’re fascinating, enticing, and enthralling. You couldn’t possibly contain their passion on the company bulletin board if you tried.
Let them be controversial. Let them beg discussion and explanation. They should answer these better questions: How will we make a difference every single day, improving the quality of life itself? How can we work on only what really matters to us, and to everyone? Why is it that this world can’t possibly be a great place without the magic we work? Why is it that we are so special, so damned good, and so fanatically courageous? Put unbusiness-like words in them, like Beauty. Uprising. Character. Notoriety. Caring. Wear your values on your sleeve and speak them.” Are you energised by the possibilities of creating such a business filled with passion and energy after reading that? I sure hope so!
In Matthew 6:22-23 the Bible says that “the eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” What is it that you are willing to allow yourself to see for your business through your eyes of faith? When God told Abraham in the Old Testament, that he was going to be the father of many nations, it was a concept that Abraham would have had difficulty visualising. After all, at the time he did not have any children and was very old, as was his wife Sarah. God gave Abraham some very interesting instructions. He said, “Go outside and look up at the stars, for as many stars as you can see, that’s how many descendants you are going to have.” (See Genesis 15:5). God understood the power of a compelling vision. It was not enough for Abraham to hear the words he needed to have a visual image so that at night time when he looked upwards on a starry night, he would be reminded of God’s promise to him.
The best missions and visions become colourful mantras for action; they’re catalysts. The worst ones are those that are literally in black and white. Rosa summarises “they are the pretty, carefully crafted ones up on the walls in frames that are long and detailed: too much to memorise and remember, too much to bother with at all. No one pays attention to them, and no one lives them. Rotate them with famous quotations or snippets from eloquent speeches and no one will even notice, because none of the real people in the company say those things.”
To craft your mission think managing with greatness and untamed strength, improving everything daily. The self talk going on in the heads of every single employee will be, “We can do this, and we are the ones ordained to do this, for we are the best at it.” To craft your vision think leading with inspiration and courage, obsessed with future possibility, in a love affair with change.
Rosa Says gets it! Contemplate her words as you go the wall and tear down the plaque with your current mission and vision statements because you don’t really need that. Instead let her words inspire you… “VISION creates that momentum of growing anticipation about the future, where change is embraced as a step closer to that very compelling picture of what’s coming next. The excitement about the future trumps any apprehension about the uncertain — change is recognised as the catalytic converter it is.” Use your imagination and lead your business in three dimensional colour!
Giselle Hudson is a speaker, author, Business Performance Improvement Consultant and Coach, ‘improving business results by helping people discover their best selves and do their best work’ since 1994. If you’re ready to raise the bar on the present performance level in your business and life then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for your FREE copy of “The 3 Steps to Profitable Business Transformation – Leading Performance Improvement that Lasts”