As companies grow and scale, the culture will understandably change. A small startup with frenetic energy led by peers will grow into a mid-sized company with structure and tiers. Unfortunately, sometimes the critically important leadership vision that got the company off the ground falls victim to processes, structure, and growing org charts.
A similar challenge can arise with leadership conferences - despite the burst of inspiration, the energy fades with time leaving little meaningful impact on the organization.
Effective leaders need to take measures to maintain inspiration and purpose through growth by weaving it into the fabric of everyday operations. Done well, the leadership vision can flow through the organization's structure. Here are four ways to engrain your vision into the day-to-day business.
Simplify the Message
If your leadership vision is typically communicated via a lengthy lecture full of jargon and words like "paradigm", it is most likely lost on your audience. It's important to empower the leadership team supporting you with the right language to convey your vision - and a simplified vision will also be more memorable for the entire team.
Boil it down to the three or four essential tenets of your leadership priorities for the organization. These priorities are different from your core values. They describe the goals that underpin your vision rather than the organization's behavior - so they may also change with time.
Develop a Time-Bound Team Effort
Empowering your divisions or departments to find their own ways to contribute to your leadership vision is a powerful way to create buy-in and accountability. Ask them to map out their annual goals on this front and conduct periodic check-ins or presentations. I personally use a quarterly approach, though your business may require a schedule with more frequency.
Be careful to not let this become a management-only exercise. To be truly effective, the entire team should participate in coming up with ideas for ways to contribute. They should also participate in the check-in meeting or presentation itself. This helps the staff at all levels understand how their efforts make an impact on the organization and how they support your vision.
Structured one-to-one meetings are imperative for effective management. They provide an opportunity to use and reinforce the company's vision as a way to guide priorities, problem solving, and areas of conflict. One-to-ones are not just a reporting meeting; they are a great opportunity to coach and develop your team.
Whether they happen monthly, weekly, or at some other interval, it's important to have an agenda to keep them from just becoming social hour. Start with a standardized form designed to cover areas like priorities for the next 90 days, accomplishments, most important item to discuss, and what's not getting done. Add in any department-specific areas you may need to keep it relevant for all teams.
Recognition is important to most people, and for many, it is a primary motivator. Public praise is even more powerful. Departmental meetings or general staff meetings are a great place to take a moment to recognize an employee's contributions and how that effort supports your leadership vision. Even a quick email to acknowledge someone's efforts can have a big impact.
Make a direct connection between that person's praiseworthy act and the specific leadership tenet that it supports. This may help others understand how they too are a part of achieving your vision.
Building out this type of internal structure requires a time investment of some very intentional thought and communication on the front end, but it will help give the organization the cohesion needed to keep growing.