Vision & Values: Your Roadmap to Success
Updated: May 30, 2019
Courage in Action
In a recent article I talked about courage and how important it is that business leaders have it, and when needed, get a refill on it. Now I want to talk about some of the incredible examples of courage in action. The company where I was chief financial officer didn't have a set of value statements or a stated vision for the first dozen or so years it existed. I am proud to say I was part of a team that not only established its vision and values, but also witnessed it go from losing significant money each month to being consistently in the black. Of course a number of factors led to that turnaround, but one that made a significant impact (and is something I think deserves more attention in small businesses) was instituting a vision and set of core values.
When I say vision, I'm talking about one that is authentic. Anyone can, and many people do, just come up with some pretty words and call them their company values. We wrestled with this. We knew that going from no values as a company to a handful that were picked out of the air by a small group of people could be even worse than not having values at all. What we needed was something that reflected what we were as a company now. Yet they also needed to be aspirational, reflecting what we wanted to become. That's a tough balance, especially when a company employs different people with different ideas.
Company values reflect the vision of the company.
We considered doing a values jam, like some companies have done, and invite everyone to participate. We contemplated the other extreme of having company leadership hash it out on a two-day retreat. In the end, we were incredibly lucky to have someone new to the team bring an outsider's perspective. He came to my office with a piece of paper and said, "I hope I'm not over-stepping because I know I've only been here a few weeks. In all the conversations that I hear, these are the things that keep coming up over and over again, and I wonder if these aren't actually your company's values."
I looked at the paper he gave me and was amazed because the four things he had written down were perfect. In fact, they became four of our five values. (The fifth was about having a lean mentality to tie them together.) He helped us, with his different perspective on our business, come up with the right values.We can talk about cutting costs by moving somewhere with a lower rent or cutting non-essential employees. We can talk about project management and sales strategy, which are surprisingly hard to develop from scratch, by the way. All of those are good things to review and most companies do so on a semi-regular basis. A lot of companies I talk to, especially if they're small, are at ground zero when it comes to developing a company culture around their company vision and establishing the values that will help them achieve that vision.
Vision and values develop company culture.
I don't want to stand here and say that having a vision and core values is the single most important thing. It might be that you have more pressing issues to address. You might need to get a bank loan refinanced before you go under. You might have just lost a key employee and need to replace that person before anything else. Don't take this as something that I'm saying is a case for everyone in all situations, because each is different. While business leadership was able to take the business from nothing and get it to where it is now, what got them there may not help them get to where they truly want to go. To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith, what got you here, won't get you there. What got you to good, won't get you to great.If you want to truly achieve your dreams, the first step is to distill and document your dreams for your business. From there, create a vision that you can share with insiders and outsiders along with a set of values that, if acted upon, will help you achieve that vision. Once you have those things, then ask yourself if you have the courage to fuel your tank all the way to the finish line. Your vision may never be completely achieved, but do you have enough courage to keep yourself from stalling out?
Do you have someone to bounce these ideas off of or know someone who's been through this process and helped others through it as well? If you don't have someone who can encourage you to achieve your business vision, let’s explore if entering a coaching relationship with me is what you need to succeed. If you want to grow your business, and you want someone to help you get there, encourage you along the way and hold you accountable, I'm opening up three coaching slots. These include a monthly conversation, which we'll do either by phone or in my office to remove distractions, along with unlimited access to bounce ideas, thoughts and concerns around with me.
The goal of this coaching is to identify some real significant change that can be accomplished in a year and to create a roadmap to help you get there. We can do some amazing things in one year – I've seen it happen firsthand.