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Written by Hamish Knox

The traditionally more relaxed summer months present an opportunity for leaders to reset and refocus their organisations.

Leaders seeking ways to inspire their team and create internal motivation in their people would benefit from answering the following two questions this summer.

1) What does our company look like in 3 years?

To create a vision that feels tangible to you and your team use these questions to guide your thoughts.

  1. Describe your organisation 3 years from today (number of staff, revenues, profit, locations, type of customers, services offered)
  2. Describe your role in the organisation 3 years from now. What specific responsibilities do you have?

Next, rank each part of your vision (e.g. growing from 10 to 45 staff, 1 to 3 locations, £3.2 million to £8.9 million in revenue) on a scale of 1-10 with 1 meaning "we'll need a lot of luck to get there" and 10 meaning "we're pretty much there already."

For any part of your vision that is less than a 10, write down the specific, observable aspects of that vision that would need to occur or change to make your score a 10 (e.g. to grow from 10 to 45 staff I'll need to document recruiting, interviewing and onboarding processes, delegate specific day-to-day responsibilities, train my leadership team on effective supervising, mentoring, coaching and training of their direct reports, train managers on creating Ideal Candidate Profiles, etc.). 

Depending on the size of your organisation, as the leader your primary role in getting each part of your vision to a "10" may only be to define what "10" looks like then support your direct reports in strategizing how to get to "10" and executing that strategy.

While you may be uncomfortable setting a clear vision for where your organisation will be in three years with political, economic and technological uncertainty, winners make choices. Creating a clear vision for your organisation three years out doesn't mean that you'll reach all or any of your mountaintops, but you and your team will have something to strive for. You may end up creating a better vision halfway up your first mountain that's better than the vision you create today.

2) What does the culture of your organisation have to be to support that vision?

Keeping in mind that your corporate culture is the behaviour you approve of implicitly or explicitly ask yourself.

  1. What are 4-7 behaviors, either embedded in our current culture that I want to reinforce to support my 3 year vision or that need to be encouraged to reach my 3 year vision? (e.g. weekly accountability meetings, regular goal setting/progress reviews, staff comfortable expressing contrary opinions or sharing uncomfortable information to leaders or open collaboration across functional groups)
  2. What are 4-7 behaviors embedded in our current culture that I want to eliminate as they will prevent us from reaching my 3 year vision? (e.g. leaders accepting excuses from direct reports, employees not taking accountability for their actions, blaming other employees or functional groups, leaders stifling discussion of information contrary to their beliefs)

After answering those two questions you may discover that you don't have a place in your organisation three years from now. Better to know that now so you can plan for a successful transition for you and your organisation.

You may also discover that your organisation needs to make major cultural changes to achieve your vision. In that case best to start with small cultural adjustments. For example, one of our clients was frustrated with staff who showed up late for team meetings so they started locking the door to the meeting room when the meeting was scheduled to start. Late arrivals dropped to zero in a few weeks.

Creating the vision for your organization and the culture to support it is not accomplished in one sitting. Invest several hours over the summer answering, reviewing and rewriting your answers to those questions then invest time daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly to track your progress and make adjustments necessary to keep yourself and your organisation on track.

Until next time... go lead.

Six Ways To Be A More Effective CEO

How you approach your work not only reveals how you feel about your job, but it also establishes a baseline outlook from which your team members develop their attitudes about work and, ultimately, their work ethic. Are you enthusiastic, or do you view your work as an imposition? When facing challenges, do you look for, and find, possibilities or do you only point out limitations to overcome? It’s difficult for your people to perform at their best and go the extra distance when they perceive that your only goal is to get through another day.

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