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“Are We There Yet?”: Communicating Your Vision Until It Echoes Back to You

One of the critical accountabilities of a CEO is leading the culture and vision of the company, pointing the way and painting a picture of the company’s guiding North Star, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). As a CEO or Business Leader, you must be relentless in your communication, unwavering in your messaging and confidence about this vision.

But how to illuminate this vision in a way that engages the whole team, and ensures that it lives and breathes in the business every day?

Think of it like a long road trip. If you’ve been in the car with kids for one of these, you’ll be familiar with the question: “Are we there yet?” Engaged team members want to know the same thing about their company’s vision and strategic initiatives.

There are four key questions that every engaged employee wants to know and that the CEO & Executive Leaders should consistently answer. This is part of the relentless communication and ensures clarity as you take your team towards the long-range vision. Those questions are:

1. Where are we going? The North Star Vision or BHAG. Ask yourself: does the team know?

  • You may become tired of repeating the vision, and believe your team is tired too. In reality, it can take 7+ times of hearing a message until it sinks in. Until nearly everyone at the company, at all levels, can repeat the message of the North Star back to you as good or better than you’ve been saying it yourself, you’ve not succeeded.

2. Why are we going there? Ask yourself: what’s the deeper purpose, why does it matter?

  • A number is not a core purpose. Illuminating your company’s long-range vision requires a compelling purpose, a reason for your team members to get out of bed in the morning. One of our clients, a native plant restoration company, introduced their core purpose after strategic planning: “Heal The Earth.”
  • Always start any significant meeting by reviewing/restating the Vision and Purpose. “Why are we doing this? Because we want to/exist to (Vision/purpose).”

3. How will we get there? Core Value behaviors guide how we act, and the Execution path is clearly shown with the 3HAG [“3-year Highly Achievable Goal”], 1HAG, QHAG and associated Priorities

  • Use storytelling, imagery, and internal marketing to ensure the team understands how Core Values actually look day-to-day, and is motivated to live them out. Use an employee newsletter to highlight stories. In All-Hands or Town Halls, invite team members to speak about what the purpose and values mean to them.
  • Highlight a “How” each quarter – ex: Q1 Core Values, Q2 3HAG, Q3 Priorities / Critical Numbers. Provide specific ways employees can participate or help. Incorporate rewards (swag, gift cards, time off, etc.) and celebrations (pizza lunch, happy hour, etc.) for achievement.

4. What do I need to do? Individual accountability and key metrics for key team members that roll up into Quarterly & Annual priorities

  • Use Interactive Technology with regular review. A tracking program ensures clarity and increases accountability for all key employees. Ex: Metronome Software, Align Today, Scaling Up, etc.
  • Once key metrics and actions that roll up into priorities are clearly defined and assigned, review progress regularly. Use your preferred software in daily & weekly huddles. This encourages regular use and, over time, will increase huddle efficiency, effectiveness, and communication.

The most important tool for CEOs and Leadership Teams in defining the long-range vision and if we’re “there yet” is the One Page Strategic Plan (OPSP). The OPSP will serve as the keystone of a great business, but only when it is integrated into the cadence of your business.

The OPSP is created and maintained by the CEO and Executive Leadership Team through an iterative strategic planning process. But, if the CEO + Leadership Team do not have habits & processes in place to continually incorporate the OPSP into everyday life in the business, it becomes less impactful, relevant, or useful. It’s up to Leadership, especially the CEO, to ensure the full impact of this living document is communicated, demonstrated, and realized day-to-day in your business.

Once it is defined, and a plan is in place for relentless communication, repeat the vision until it echoes back to you from all levels of the organization. Soon, engaged employees will no longer be asking “are we there yet?” They’ll be telling you how they plan to get there.

Having a plan is one thing. Communicating in a truly compelling way is another.
Learn to powerfully command the attention you require for success in our Be More Compelling workshop this month with best-selling author Kevin Daum. Register today!

The One Page Strategic Plan is one of the tools thought leader Shannon Byrne Susko recommends for leaders looking to “grow up” their company with ease, speed, and confidence. We hosted Shannon for a CEO+ Leadership Team Bootcamp last spring – see key insights from the day here.

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