This week featured Cannes Lion, the biggest gathering of the advertising industry where corporate heavyweights mix with celebs mix with artists mixed with lots of wine and sun.
Amid the buzz, one voice poked out that you might have missed. It was Will Smith talking about success. In a conversation in front of hundreds of advertisers, Smith-who I still think of as Mr. Fresh Prince from my younger days-talked about how winning at a certain point felt like losing.
"I had so much success that I started to taste global blood and my focus shifted from my artistry to winning. I wanted to win and be the biggest movie star," he said. "I found myself promoting something because I wanted to win versus promoting something because I believed in it."
Smith specifically talked about marketing the film Wild Wild West which was a hit internationally-generating more than $200 million in revenue worldwide-but represented a low point in his career.
Those words ring truer each day when I talk to entrepreneurs. Jack Welch likes to talk about winning and how good it feels-which is pretty damn true-but winning alone is not enough. Instead, winning with purpose ought to be the only reason why you're in the game.
So how do you convey that to your team? How do leaders ensure that not only are they steering their team to success, but that everyone is on the same page with a higher mission? Below are three ways you can get everyone moving on the same train, even if that train still looks like something out of a Will Smith action movie:
1. Write a mission statement: Companies can spend a day or a month or months on this. Having a clear missions statement is critical. The important thing is remembering the mission statement is not so much to help you, but to figure out how you can help others. Start by asking, "Why does X company even exist?" You'll soon find out whether you're building this company for yourself-or for others.
2. Find your team members' strengths: It's very easy to find the weaknesses in your team members. The harder part is finding the strengths and doubling down on them. When you find that strength and let your members cultivate it, you'll be surprised at how much creativity and productivity comes out. It also gives your teammates a sense of purpose if they're doing something they both love and are good at. Maybe it's organization. Maybe it's coding. Maybe it's hustling. Whatever it may be, finding that strength will make work far more enjoyable for your team.
3. Give critical feedback: It's still surprising to me how few managers want to give critical feedback. Doing this gives your staff a sense they are improving. Not knowing is the worst. Knowing what you're not doing right means you're one step closer to correcting it. Everyone makes mistakes and the best leaders are the ones who accept those mistakes as a part of growing. The key is to balance that feedback with plenty of praise when appropriate. People tend to lean heavily one way or the other-find the balance.
Once you've established the "true north", pick up the flag, gather your team and go for it!