Team members often build trust when they face hurdles on their way to a common goal. For example, Olympic athletes competing in individual sports cite watching their coaches and teammates striving for their nation's success as an extra spark for their own performances.
Success in any endeavor requires more than hope. It takes hard work. For leaders, inspiring an organization to achieve objectives and overcome inevitable setbacks requires producing almost tangible visions of victory.
You can't just talk about winning in the abstract. You need to picture an athlete standing on the top podium listening to their national anthem.
Leaders need to inspire this kind of vision in their employees. They need to take tangible steps to allow everyone on the team to feel a part of this shared vision, this shared goal, and to push it forward as a group.
Nothing about this process can be abstract. Communication is key, to identify what team members want personally as well as share what the company as a whole is working toward.
Here are six tips for making this a reality for your team:
When you articulate a purpose, be inclusive of employees, customers, investors and other communities touched by your organization's vision and objectives. Find a goal that all stakeholders can root for.
Make it real.
Don't rely on jargon-leaden mission statements no matter how lofty and inspiring they might sound. They too often create cynicism. Include the entire team when creating a document or policy that leads to a specific outcome and eschews corporate-speak.
Collect stories of team-members who go the extra mile for customers or colleagues. These examples honor those who do exceptional work advancing the company's goals and illustrate your organization's vision in action. They also are tangible reminders of why your team and its values are different from your competitors.
Renew the vision.
Don't be afraid to replace an aging, stale or blurred vision. As organizations grow, early passions die, and bureaucracy often comes alive. Team members may sense this drift and arrive at work unclear about their goals or the purpose of the enterprise. This is the time to refocus on both the vision and the organization's operation.
Think big, but keep it simple.
Pick an outcome team members will be proud to pursue -- nothing vague or defensive, either--and keep these goals to no more than three. Be the evangelist and guardian of these aims.
Big dreams, whether in relationships or organizations, almost always require sacrifice at some level, and that's good. People tend to love those things for which they have sacrificed. Just make sure the leaders are making a sacrifice, too. And they should not expect more than people can reasonably give unless they want to become known as a slave driver.
Bottom line: Most employees want to feel as if they are working toward concrete, lasting and important goals -- not just cranking out a series of repetitive tasks.
When people can rally around a common dream, reaching for a summit that's consistent with their values, they'll sacrifice together, lift each other's burdens, and do their utmost not to let each other down.
And that's winning in my book.