King Solomon rendered sound business advice when he wrote Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish. …” That same mantra holds true in your business setting whether you’re the boss of two or 200 employees. According to Dick Richards, author of The Art of Winning Commitment: 10 Ways Leaders Can Engage Minds, Hearts, and Spirits (AMACOM; $24.95), successful companies throughout corporate America have made it their business to set forth a vision of excellence for all to follow.
Everyone must participate to make the vision a success. “The problem,” explains Richards, “is that while a vision can be powerful, to be successful it [must] also [have] strong meaning to everyone involved.” Jerome Edmondson, president of the Southfield, Michigan-based Christian Business Network NxLevel Entrepreneur Training Institute, agrees and says that activating and sustaining a team’s commitment to a vision surpasses the rigid “no questions asked” philosophy. Whether the goal is to increase sales or excel on a new project, team leaders should remember that “people genuinely feel good when they do something to help someone else,” says Edmondson. “You have to inspect what you expect. When an employee walks into a well-organized [company] that appreciates [its] employees, what motivates them is the opportunity for growth.”
As executive director of Parents of Watts in Los Angeles, Alice Harris, affectionately known as “Sweet Alice,” uses her compelling vision to help others in her community help themselves. Her vision for Parents of Watts, an organization that provides services such as emergency food and shelter as well as health seminars, emerged more than 40 years ago when she was a homeless teen mother of two infants. She had nowhere to turn for work, food, or shelter -in the very community where she now assists others with similar challenges.
“With a vision, the best thing I know is to be truthful and to create a thirst for what people need and want. You have to build a relationship and people will normally act on the way they feel about you and the business,” says Harris.
Edmondson says that there are some technical aspects to developing a vision. “What lies between vision and reality is a four-letter word called ‘work’,” he explains. “To carry out a vision for business, it’s about understanding what your unique gift is and making it a reality.”
For more information, read In Search of Excellence by Robert H. Waterman and Thomas J. Peters (Warner Books; $15.99) and The Principles and Power of Vision by Myles Munroe (Whitaker House; $19.99).
Edmondson offers these steps to achieve team and business success:
1] Research your market. Based on the information gathered, write your business or vision plan.
2] Find your niche in the marketplace.
3] Deploy your vision through networking.
4] Find your customer. Every vision requires a customer and should service a need in society.
ILLUSTRATION BY JERRY GONZALEZ : SEPTEMBER 2004
YOUR GUIDE TO MAXIMIZING YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET -YOURSELF
5] Ensure that your credit is positive, and diligently work to get your vision financed through entities such as investors and financial institutions.