One of the biggest challenges facing any business leader is how to develop fanatical support for the company’s mission and objectives.
In other words, how does a leader turn people who are punching the time clock into tribal leaders who beat the war drums?
Think your company is too boring to develop a cult-like following? Think again. Here are five steps to help you share and sell big ideas with your team.
1. STOP COMMUNICATING IDEAS, AND START CASTING VISION
Vision is commonly misunderstood to be sharing an idea. Ideas are what people come up with when they want to throw a party. Vision is the foundational ingredient to a movement. Andy Stanley articulates it this way: “Vision is what could be and what should be.”
Vision and ideas are not the same. Ideas produce deadlines and task lists. Vision produces passion, commitment, and a belief for the way things ought to be. As leadership expert Simon Sinek put it, inspiring action comes when people believe what you believe.
How do you make sure you’re sharing vision and not just an idea?
2. ESTABLISH A VILLAIN
An idea simply exists in isolation, but a vision fights a battle against a villain. If your team has zero passion for your company’s mission, it’s because they don’t feel part of a meaningful battle to fight. Establish a villain to fight. Better yet, establish multiple villains.
One of the many villains our company, which develops software for events and fundraising, fights is the need for a password requirement prior to registering or donating. We fundamentally believe no one on earth wants another password in their life. Other villains include cookie-cutter templates, setup fees, contracts, and terrible customer service. Our entire team is passionate about defeating these villains wherever they exist.
A villain explains why your product or service is the way it is. Your company’s villain might be an industry trend, a feature set, a competitor, or just the status quo. Articulate them, and declare war.
3. PERSONALIZE THE FIGHT WITHIN THE TEAM
After you’ve identified the villains, make it crystal clear how each department’s role contributes to fighting the battle. A customer support member just doesn’t answer emails, they are defeating the paradigm of crappy technical support. A developer doesn’t write lines of code, they are unlocking possibilities for customers who have been handcuffed to manual processes. When you rephrase your team’s role in the context of fighting villains, you bring purpose to their job description.
4. TAKE ACTION AND BUILD MOMENTUM
The number one way vision is defeated is by inaction. When you have a shared vision, it must always have a clear path forward. Vision is infectious when there is action and momentum. So do something: Change your website copy, add new features, take away features, or update your marketing language. Taking action galvanizes your vision and makes it part of the cultural DNA of your team. Be decisive and bold with the implications of your newfound battle.
5. REPEAT IT REGULARLY
You can’t expect any vision to stick if it’s only announced once. Embrace it and integrate into your company culture. Place it on walls, put it on T-shirts, and bring it up anytime your company makes decisions. As you communicate your vision often, your team will naturally adopt it into their natural language. When your team begins repeating your vision on their own, you have the foundation for a company renaissance.
The end result of this vision is a team that personally cares about the advancement of your product or service. We regularly have team members who exceed our expectations because they have enlisted themselves in the battles we fight. They get personal satisfaction out of every victory and also take it personally any time we have a setback. This kind of fanatical allegiance only comes through vision that sticks.