Leader! Do your team members have a vision?
April 13, 2022, Dina-Marie Weineck
As a founder, keeping your team members happy and thriving is crucial to realizing your company’s vision…here’s why and how you do it.
One of your biggest responsibilities as a founder or leader is to help your team members see a place for themselves within the vision they help you realize. In other words, the vision every single one of your team members has for themselves is just as crucial to the success of the company as is the vision you have for the very company itself.
Early on in my work with clients, I help them develop a vision of their Future Self. We give them names, like Beach Tony, Dr. Caitlin, or Resort Anna. And then we put the Beach Tonys of the world to work:
With that vision at the forefront, every day, they’re becoming their future Self, and ultimately, take emboldened action in the present.
Living from that future place opens up a lot of potential. For you as the individual. For your company. For your team. And for the members of that very team.
As a founder, you’ll have your own reasons for going into business. Your business is, in some ways, the vehicle that helps your call forth your Future Self. Similarly, you'll also want to clearly define your envisioned future for the company. Ultimately, you want to help your team members define their own future vision and, collaboratively, create a vision wherein the company's future can support the individual team member's future, and vice versa.
For your company, your vision must be explicitly stated, concrete, and inspire action. While you lead the chart on creating that vision, you want your team’s (and board’s) buy-in all the way. Typically, you’ll want to get clear on where you see your company in 3-5 years from now in four main aspects:
1) products and services,
2) marketing and audience,
3) impact and community,
4) and, you knew it, your team.
Your vision lives or dies with your team.
Not only with how much buy-in you have from them. Not only with how eagerly they help realize that vision. But, and possibly most crucially, with how much they see themselves within that vision.
The latter requires you, as the leader, to help your team members find the source of intrinsic motivation: What are they in for? What are their stakes? What will keep them happy? What are they doing it all for? And it better not be you. You want to know what makes them tick.
In other words; how does your vision align with their own personal vision? And do they see themselves (their Future Self) align with your vision for the company?
The vision you put forth for your team and company might extrinsically motivate your team to help build that vision. They might have fully bought into the vision and believe in your mission and the future you’re building. However, extrinsic motivation isn’t going to get the company over the finish line.
Intrinsic motivation will: the powerful activation of an inner source of motivation that is unique and special to every individual.
As the founder, it’s your job to help your team “do it for themselves”, too.
See, turning over a position costs the company between 30 and 40% of that position’s annual salary. Why? You have to train the new person, you lose institutional knowledge, it takes time to get the new person up to speed and have business partners get used to the new person, etc. Decreasing turnover, thus, is a worthwhile investment. So let’s get to it.
Founder: you’ve got to have a conversation with your team members…
Great, so you have the big vision for the company. You’ve laid it out to your team, have gotten your team’s input, and collaboratively, you’ve architected a future for your company that’s inspiring.
Everybody knows where the company is headed.
Everybody might even know what their job is to get the company there.
But does every individual know how they fit in with the future of that company? That there is a place for them? And how that place looks like?
You want to help them see their potential for themselves and create space within your company for them to soar.
Especially in startups, the very first team members you hire are typically generalists, doing everything and anything it takes to get the company off the ground. As they begin to hire specialists to take over part of their initial jobs, these members’ job description changes, naturally. Now, you wouldn’t want them to feel redundant.
So, as you grow the company, you must not be short-sighted. Have a conversation with your team members, one on one, about where you see their job evolve to within the next five years. Positively affirm them and share with them the potential you see in them. Not just for the company, but the potential they have as a human in the world. Share with them how crucial they’ve been for the company’s growth thus far. Discuss, together, what aspects of the job only they can execute and which aspects they rather pass off in favor of doing more of that zone-of-genius-stuff. How are they important to the organization? What’s the job only they can execute?
Then look at the company’s vision - How are they an asset to the organization in 5 years from now? Share your thoughts with them but also – and this is crucial – open the floor for them to share what they see themselves doing and help them align their vision with that of the company. What resources might they need to help them get to that point – professional development resources, courses, coaching support, etc.? What aspects of their job do they love the most?
Be empathetic: How do they see their job getting in the way of their private life and what within their private life do they want to protect the most? What are they threatened by? What fears do they have? By what aspects of the vision or positions do they feel threatened? What can you do to support them?
Establishing that open dialogue with your team is pertinent to your bottom line, to advancing your products and services, to building a great reputation, and to giving your team the agency to create happy customers all around the world.
If you want to create loyal customers, you've got to create a loyal team first.
And, Dear Leader – this is not a time consuming task. It’s a money, resource, time, and hassle saving necessity.
In collaborative prosperity,