Category Archives: Michael Nichols

4 Signs Your Leadership Isn’t Working

There are ALWAYS warning signs. It hardly ever comes as a complete surprise.

warning-sign-leadership-mistakes

Team members begin backing away. Meetings lose energy and focus. Complaints rise. Morale falls.

Then one day it becomes painfully clear – something isn’t working.

Here are 4 warning signs that your leadership isn’t working

1. Self-preservation

Are you looking out for yourself or are you serving others? Are you following your own agenda or helping others to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams?

When self-preservation is present, leaders resort to manipulation. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant.

Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer. Because people and teams aren’t interested in following someone who is in it for themselves.

Ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

2. Unhealthy

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to 4 critical gauges to assess health in my life and workPhysical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional.

You can read more about these gauges here.

How you FEEL about how you are doing does not matter nearly as much as how you’re REALLY doing.

You CAN make the conscious decision to live healthy in these 4 critical areas of life and work, so you have more to offer than a handful of years of frenzied activity.

If we are not holistically healthy, we simply cannot live and lead effectively. We cannot respond to challenges and opportunities calmly and decisively.

Ask yourself: Am I physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy?

3. Lost

There was a huge vision for growth. The organization restructured, launched a new initiative, and began gaining momentum. Then the negative feedback started – and it came from influential people. And that’s when you found out how committed the leader really was – and how committed the team really was.

YOU were doing great – then you weren’t. What happened?!

It’s not that you weren’t committed at all. You were! Maybe you just weren’t as committed as you thought you were.

What causes us to give up on our goals? Why do we so readily abandon our dreams?

Commitment doesn’t mean much anymore. But it still means something to you – you meant it and you’re going to follow through. You’re going to reach your goal!

Ask yourself: What one step can I take today to get back on track?

4. Sign language

Do your team members think you’re deaf?

Let’s face it – you aren’t really in a position to objectively answer that question. And neither am I.

Nobody – absolutely no one – is interested in me sitting across the desk from them waiting for their sentence to end so I can start talking again. They need me to listen – to actually give a rip!

Listening takes time and when you are willing to give your time, people know you care. [Tweet That!]

Ask yourself: Does my team know that I am listening?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Do You REALLY Care about Your Family?

Do you care about your spouse? Does it matter to you what your children will become? Not what they will do for work – but who they will be – what they will become.

What legacy you are leaving for your grandchildren?

Happy family preparing a healthy dinner at home.

In our parenting journey, Sarah and I have noted essentials for healthy families. Every family can do these!

Discover and pursue their dreams

If you are spending significant quality time with family members, then it’s likely that you are intimately familiar with their ambitions, passions, and dreams. And when you are, you can help them fulfill those dreams.

Nearly every day I do something or say something to help my wife and children take the next step in the pursuit of their passions.

This is important – these are not MY dreams for them. Rather I’m encouraging them to pursue the calling and the passion that lies within them.

Consequently, I must regularly assess my understanding of their dreams as they evolve. And I must evaluate my motivations for challenging them to move forward.

Independence

This area was particularly challenging for me because of my tendency to be too engaged in most everything.

I’m a problem-solver. So I naturally want to fix problems – some before they even occur.

But my problem-solving occasionally robs others of valuable life experiences. So I’ve had to learn to back off of problem-solving and allow others to grow through their experiences.

When Madison was very young I began allowing her more and more freedom to make healthy decisions – decisions about spending and saving, planning family trips, getting involved in athletics, doing chores.

This week she told Sarah and me about a product that she’d like to invent and how she plans to do it. Another evening she drafted a simple plan for a business she’d like to start.

In reality, she often falls short of her ambition. And that’s ok – because failing facilitates growth.

I want those closest to me to know that I believe in their dreams. And I want them to know that I will do everything possible to support them. More than anything, I want to challenge them to follow their calling with abandon.

Pursue spirituality

I’m not sure if it’s your style or not – but Sarah and I encourage Madison to pursue spirituality. As a result, she loves church. She loves to read Scripture. She loves to pray with us…

Over the past 2 months our family has experienced a significant transition which included moving 1300 miles to a new home and community. So our schedules got all out of whack.

Prior to our transition we’d been praying with Madison every night. (We pray at other times throughout the day too – but our bedtime prayers have become a special time for us.)

This week we’re finally getting back into a routine. So last night I laid down with Madison to pray. She went first – “God, I know we haven’t prayed in a while…” Whoops!

I love that she understands the importance of faith and that it plays a significant role in her life.

It’s a non-negotiable, a top priority for us.

This post is part of the series – Non-Negotiables For a Healthy Family
Part 1: Family – It Doesn’t Have to be This Way

Question: What non-negotiable would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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3 Mistakes You Should Never Make

You’re going through the most challenging situation you’ve faced in your career. Morale is low. Revenue is missing projections. Your team, your organization is depending on you. What do you do?

It’s painful. Sometimes it’s not fair – it’s not your fault. The team has not been resourced properly. Certain team members aren’t pulling their weight. You have to do something!

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t make these 3 mistakes:

1. Share the pain

I’ve seen this disastrous mistake made over and over in business, in non-profits, in ministry, in higher education. Sharing the pain always leads to more pain.

Across the board pay cuts don’t work – because, along with cutting the pay of your low performers, you’re cutting the pay of your top performers. And what affect do you think that’s going to have on performance and your bottom line?

No long-term good will result from sharing the pain. So call it what it is – it’s either laziness or fear. Someone was either too lazy to figure out the real problem or they know what the problem is and they’re afraid to deal with it. So they cut everywhere. Everything. Everybody. And it won’t work.

If you have to cut, cut strategically. Cut what’s not working. Cut low performing products and services. Cut low performing personnel. But don’t ever give in to the temptation to share the pain!

Remember, you get what you reward. And rewarding top performers by sharing the pain of lazy, lethargic leadership won’t turn out well.

2. Anecdotal decision-making

You’ve been doing your job a long time – longer than most. You know what it takes to grow. And you know your market. So you make the recommendation to the team. In doing so, you know there’s no actual data – at least none other than your gut and your experience.

To be fair – we’ve all done it. Many times.

My dear friend – anecdotal evidence is not good enough. Not anymore. What got you here will not get you there. The world and your audience have become far too complex to shoot from the hip.

Furthermore, your people are trading substantial portions of their lives to serve your organization. Are they trading it for something that’s worthwhile? If your work is worthwhile, then make the well-founded decisions that your work and your team deserves.

Anecdotal decision-making will take you in circles. Weeks from now you’ll be right back at the table with the same people dealing with this same issue. And they’re not going to like it. So handle it fully today.

Develop a culture of making sound decisions based on market research and actionable data. If you don’t have the data, slow down long enough to collect it. Create systems and processes that support a data-guided culture. And keep it simple – great systems are simple. Just don’t give in to lazy or fearful decision-making.

3. Get in a hurry

This is a tough one if you’re task-oriented and growth-oriented – like me. Never forget, you have your entire life to do your life’s work. Your vision – your huge, daunting, compelling vision for your work, your team, your organization, your industry – is just not going to happen overnight. So accept that fact and quit reacting!

If you’re not committed to a lifetime of service with your current organization or team, then reevaluate where you are. If you have to, leave. If your team isn’t what it needs to be, make changes. Just don’t do it in a hurry.

John Wesley once said,

I am always in haste but never in a hurry; because I never attempt that which I cannot accomplish in calmness of spirit.

Be purposeful and passionate – but slow down. Enjoy the journey. Love your team!

If you want to reach the mountain peaks in your life and work, lead your team to consider these 4 disciplines:

  1. Understand how their work fits into their overall life. Leading them to create a personal life plan is a great way to get them started. Check out my post, Your Life Matters, for a link to a free eBook and tool for creating a life plan.
  2. Develop a vision for their work. For their career, for their position, for the team, for the organization. Let them decide. I’ve written an eBook, Creating Your Business Vision, which explains each of these types of vision. You can read more about it here – download it free to work through it with your team.
  3. Create specific plans for accomplishing the vision. Review and evaluate them regularly – at least quarterly. To get the results you desire, you must get very specific.
  4. Effectively manage priorities and decisions. It’s tempting to spend all your time managing priorities and decisions – scheduling meetings, responding to needs andemail, improving efficiency and effectiveness. Yet if you don’t understand how your work fits into your life, if you don’t have a business vision, if you haven’t written out specific business plans, you’ll have to deal with the same problems over and over again.
Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Family – It doesn’t have to be this way!

The most heart-breaking stories are those of broken homes and fractured relationships. There’s one reason – because in most instances they’re avoidable.

Broken Home

This post is part of the series – Non-Negotiables For a Healthy Family
Family – It Doesn’t Have to be This Way
Do You REALLY Care About Your Family?

This past week I was told of two families who are navigating incredibly challenging circumstances. In one household, the father has a history of abuse and the family has had enough. In the other, one parent was convicted of embezzling funds in the workplace and is serving a long-term prison sentence leaving behind a spouse and 3 precious daughters.

It didn’t have to be this way

These unfortunate situations are the direct result of bad decisions. They’re avoidable! And many similar situations (not all that different from yours and mine) are avoidable too.

But – and this is the difference-maker – it will require you to be more purposeful than you’ve ever been.

It’s not enough to deal with life as it happens. It’s not enough to succeed in your career and expect home life to work itself out. It won’t be enough to send your children to the best schools your money can buy. Taking them to church won’t be enough. It’s simply not fair to expect your spouse and children to keep it together when your behaviors demonstrate that family is not a priority.

So – if you’ve ever cared about your spouse, what your children will become, what you are leaving for your grandchildren, or what matters most to those who love you most – now’s the time to really do something about it!

Here are 2 essentials for healthy families – and you CAN do them. Everyone can…

1. Time

Sarah and I spend a significant amount of time with Madison and Andrew. And we love it. I’ve previously written about spending time with our children – you can read about it here.

But there was a time when I didn’t. Not because I didn’t want to. Not because I didn’t care. Not because I didn’t love them. I simply had not made home life a high enough priority to elicit a change in my behavior.

It’s true – to most people love is spelled t-i-m-e. Our children love our time together with them. So last night I laid down with Madison in her bed and talked about all kinds of “important” stuff.

A few moments ago, she walked in while I’m writing this post – I stopped and helped her buckle her sandals. And I’ll walk her to school this morning. Why? Because I have more time than the average dad? No – because she is a top priority for me.

If you’re like me, you’ll have to schedule significant time into your calendar for family or it won’t happen. At first it will feel forced because you’re changing old habits. But the longer you do it, you’ll get better at it and it will feel more natural.

2. Full attention

It’s one thing to spend time with a spouse, a son, a daughter, a grandchild. Yet I’m learning that HOW we spend the time together is far more important.

Are we fully engaged in the moment? Do they know that they have our undivided attention? Do they feel as if they are the most important person in the world during our moments together?

Or do they only get our undivided attention when we don’t have something more urgent to do?

Madison craves our undivided attention. For more than 7 years she was an only child. So she was regularly asking my wife and me to play with her. I wish I had done so more often.

We’ll never get parenting right 100% of the time – but we’ll get it right a lot more if we are purposeful with our time.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?

You’ve heard it a hundred times – if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And if this statement ever was true, it is simply no longer reality. Life IS about growth, but it’s not ALL about growth.

This post is part of the series – What Ever Happened to Personal Responsibility?
Would You Return to Your Organization?
If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?
Leaders are the Most Creative People on the Planet
Great Leaders Serve
Is Fear Taking Over?

I’m passionate about growth. I’ve written much about planningvision, and growth. For much of my life, anything short of growth I considered failure…until few weeks ago.

In a recent post, Chris Patton included a simple phrase that caught my attention – life is not all about prosperity.

Just a few hours before reading the post my wife and I had engaged in an emotional discussion about her moving forward with some decisions she needed to make. (I know what you’re thinking – but it was in a restaurant, so it wasn’t too lively.)

Sarah is steady, supportive, consistent. I am creative, innovative, impulsive. So I questioned whether Sarah was putting off some decisions because she was waiting for circumstances to improve. Or because she was hoping for more certainty.

After reading Chris’ post, I found myself questioning MY perspective – is life all about growth?

Here are three things I noted about growth from this experience –

1. Growth comes in many shapes and sizes

Reflecting on my conversation with Sarah, I realized that she IS experiencing growth. Among other areas, she is growing in patience – with her circumstances and with me.

Growth is not always bigger. It’s not always quantitative – measured the way you or I think it should be measured.

Here’s a great question for determining whether or not you are experiencing growth – Are my current situation and my resulting behaviors adding value to my life and work or to the life and work of others?

2. You can grow through pain

From a long-term perspective, maybe the old adage is true – If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Let’s face it – in a world of constant and rapid change, maintaining the status quo is quite simply passive regression.

But, on the surface, constant growth just doesn’t seem possible. Life is about dormancy, setbacks, and pain. It’s about disease, loss, and grief. It’s about uncertainty and unknowns – challenging projects at work, strained relations at home, in between jobs, waiting for word from the doctor, mounting medical bills.

And while it seems that life is about more than growth – life’s incredibly uncomfortable moments are, in reality, opportunities for explosive personal growth.

3. You don’t have to prolong the pause

It’s true – life is full of difficult moments. But it’s also filled with hope. With vision. With dreams. With legacy.

Life isn’t all about prosperity, but it can be about growth. If you are going to grow it will have to be on purpose. You must choose.

So whatever you’re going through, deal with it intentionally. Process it. Get help. Don’t prolong the pain any more than is absolutely necessary.

Decide right now – What one step can I take today toward closing this chapter in my life and opening a new chapter?

Life is a series of new beginnings – and today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Make it a great one!

So, is it true – am I dying if I’m not growing? What have you learned about growth? Leave a comment – let us know what you think.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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What Does Longevity Have to Do with Leadership?

Longevity is not leadership. Leadership is leadership. And longevity is longevity.

Don’t get me wrong – I love hearing about leaders who launch organizations and serve them for 20, 30, or 40 years. But does tenure make great leaders?

One of my best friends is one of the most loyal people I know. He will likely serve his current organization for the rest of his life. I have learned much about consistency and contentment through our friendship.

My father has been serving the same organization for more than 25 years.

Organizations and teams can benefit significantly from a leader who communicates and implements bold, compelling vision through changing seasons over a long period of time. And Sarah and I are looking forward to investing the most fulfilling and productive years of our lives in a long-term role within an organization.

Yet I’ve learned that although some executives man the helm of an organization for a long period of time, they are not always leading.

Self-preservation

A leader of a large organization once confessed to me, My goal is to survive a presidency.

Is that leadership?

It certainly sounds more like self-preservation than leadership. And self-preservation is a fatally flawed foundation for decision-making – the kind of decision-making that is necessary to lead.

At it’s core leadership involves change. And those leading change embrace the fact that their position will often be in jeopardy.

Leaders care less about position and more about vision. Less about what got them here and more about what will get them there. Less about self-promotion and more about developing people.

Put simply, those not leading change are not leading. Longevity does not equal leadership. If you’ve been leading long, you’ve probably figured this out. And it’s probably personal to you. Because, at some point in your career it’s likely you have already served in a short-term leadership role – an unplanned temporary position.

Short-term roles

Short-term leadership stints are a necessary part of organizational leadership. These unintended interim roles are inherently valuable and can include…

  • Launching an organization or initiative
  • Introducing new vision
  • Facilitating health and growth
  • Guiding through transition
  • Leading through challenging times
  • Rebuilding and restructuring

When the leader’s work is done, they move on.

Make the most of it

I’ve been a short-term leader – though I arrived intending to remain long-term. Short-term leadership can be a bittersweet experience. You planned to spend the rest of your career within the organization building something great together. But that was before you developed a team of leaders and worked yourself out of a job.

Unplanned temporary can also be painful at times. Have you experienced the dysfunction of a poor leader? Had a colleague betray your trust? Have you poured hundred of hours intodeveloping your team members, only to have them walk away from the vision?

Regardless of the reason, short-term leadership is an essential part of organizational growth. When a leader fulfills her purpose within an organization, the best thing she can do is leave.

Question: Have you experienced an unplanned temporary position? Have you ever known someone who stayed too long?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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If You’re not Mentoring, You’re not Leading

You are not leading if you are not developing new leaders. Simply developing followers who flesh out your ideas and implement your vision won’t cut it.

Having followers is not the defining characteristic of leadership. At its very core, leadership facilitates change. After all, if you are not leading people and teams toward change, what are you leading them to do? To be?

Change is not easy. It’s difficult – not for the faint of heart. And developing people – new leaders – adds more complexity to the mix.

To develop new leaders, you must be willing to invest in people – to mentor them. And mentoring will require more of your time and your resources than you ever thought possible.

 

And it’s worth it. Because leaders mentor new leaders. And those new leaders will change the global marketplace.

There’s no need to worry about your position, your age, your place in life, your limitations. They don’t matter – they’re only excuses!

You’ve walked where someone hasn’t. And you can help them – if you dare.

Last week I received a phone call from a friend. He called to let me know that he began working on creating a personal life plan this week.

For several years I’ve been sharing my life planning experiences with this friend and the dramatic improvements I’ve seen in my life and work.

So he decided last week that it was time for him to get started. If he follows through, his life will be forever changed.

I recently heard Bruce Prindle talk about mentoring – he noted 3 ways that leaders mentor new leaders. Here they are:

1. Fully Committed

Mentor leaders devote themselves selflessly to those they mentor. It’s deeply personal. They fully realize what’s at stake.

Being an only child, our daughter, Madison, learned to entertain herself at a very young age. She would spend hours telling stories to herself as she acted them out. Usually her narratives involved a mother and daughter, teacher and student, doctor and patient, etc. She’s a good mommy and a good teacher – although she gets a little bossy at times.

One afternoon several years ago, I walked past her room and overheard her tell her imaginary daughter, “Honey, I need to finish my work and then I’ll play with you.”

To which the imaginary daughter replied, “But mom, I really want to play now.”

Mommy Madison said, “I can’t play with you right now, I have to finish my work.”

At this point I walked in the room and asked her, “Madison who did you learn that from?”

She responded, “Mommy and you – I want to be just like you guys”

Yikes!

Are you too busy to be fully committed to mentoring new leaders?

2. Model life and work

People will take your example far more seriously than your advice. The last thing the world needs is more noise. Effective mentors talk less and live more.

And it’s not just about job function and performance. Mentor leaders help people improve holistically – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.

3. Pass it on

Mentors challenge future leaders to think creatively and work passionately. And the new leaders know that their mentor is genuinely interested in their success!

I previously wrote a post, Success – When Your Successor Is More Successful Than You, so I won’t include the same information here. But take a few moments to review the post.

If you are not mentoring a future leader, you are wasting your influence. And that’s inexcusable!

If you’ve been mentored, you understand the enormous value of the mentoring relationship. Your life and work were profoundly impacted by your leader. So pass it on to someone else.

If you don’t, well, you’re not really leading.

Question: What mentor had a profound impact on your life and work? Honor them by including their name or, if you’d prefer, a description of their influence in the comments below.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Are you Leading -or- Manipulating?

Most of us agree – leadership is influence. And there are times when influence morphs into down-right-out manipulation.

At it’s core leadership involves change. After all, what are we leading people to do? To be? Yet there’s a fine line between leadership and manipulation.

Both involve influencing others. Both attempt to persuade people to do what you want them to do. Both leverage vision, passion, and emotion to elicit a desired result.

So how do you know if you are leading or manipulating?

Pro’s and Con’s

To complicate matters, there are positive and negative aspects of manipulation. Manipulation can positively influence by skillfully treating with one’s hands or by mechanical means such as manipulating fragments of a broken bone into correct position.

More commonly, manipulation involves negative influence, especially in an unfair manner such as manipulating one’s feelings.

It’s this negative manipulation which goes beyond influence to controlling people and environments. Many manipulators live in denial never realizing they’ve crossed the fine line from leadership to manipulation.

Everybody’s Doing It!

All leaders, at one time or another, have manipulated those they lead. Many do it regularly. And most find it difficult to admit this tendency.

I’ve learned that healthy leaders regularly consider:

  1. Am I threatened when my team members stray from the vision? How do I respond?
  2. Do I have a tendency to shift things back in my favor?

When leaders acknowledge that negative manipulation is a real threat to their influence, they can take steps to eliminate these behaviors.

The Reason:

To determine if you are leading or manipulating, ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

Are you looking out for yourself or are you serving others? Are you following your own agenda or helping others to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams?

Your underlying motivation reveals whether you are leading or manipulating.

When selfishness or self-preservation are present, it’s easy to become a manipulator. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant. Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer.

So are you leading or just being manipulative?

Here are 4 groups that are negatively impacted by manipulation…

1. The Manipulated

Manipulated people become hurt, disillusioned, and discouraged. As a result, their ability to lead and perform at a high level is damaged.

2. The Witness

When we experience the negative influence of a leader toward a colleague, we become wary of all leaders. Maybe we shouldn’t – but we do.

Those who witness manipulation find it difficult to trust leaders.  They carry self-protective attitudes forward into future relationships. And this painful experience causes them to withdraw from healthy leaders who could positively influence of lives and work.

3. The Organization

It’s not long before the organization suffers. Collaboration, problem solving, and decision-making are all diminished.

The result? Inadequate decisions. Inappropriate behaviors. Poor performance. Over time manipulative leadership will threaten the stability of any organization.

4. The Manipulator

A manipulating leader will never reach their full potential.  They simply cannot grow and will never experience the satisfaction that comes from serving others.

And they deserve it, right?

Not so fast – he may be you! Every leader is naturally self-absorbed. Executive Coach Raymond Gleason said recently:

I’ve never met a leader who couldn’t benefit from more humility.

Question: How have you seen a leader manipulate others? What were the effects? How do you guard against becoming manipulative? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Grow on Purpose

It’s the one piece of advice we all know is true, but don’t necessarily want to hear. If I could say one thing to my generation it would be this – Grow on purpose!

Grow on Purpose

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received scores of email with questions and comments about self-development and leadership. And the resulting conversations often involve how to improve priority management and make better decisions.

Leaders and team members are looking for solutions to complex challenges in their life and work. And our conversations inevitably lead back to the same solution – grow on purpose.

When life happens

When your words are misunderstood. When people are criticizing you. When you think you can’t handle any more – grow on purpose.

When you feel discouraged and you want to quit – keep growing.

When you’re not sure if your life or your work is making a difference. When you don’t know if your leadership or influence matters – just grow on purpose.

There is one, and only one, silver bullet solution to breaking through to the next level in your life and work — to becoming the leader you long to be: You must grow!

Whatever you do – don’t stop

So many people struggle when vision or plans are unclear. They don’t know where to start or how to move forward. And they do the absolute worst thing – they stop.

So when you’re feeling unsupported, blocked, or stuck – grow on purpose.

When it doesn’t feel like you and your team are making progress – don’t stop, keep growing.

When your  life and work seems designed to frustrate you and thwart your plans on your journey – grow on purpose.

Don’t stop. Keep going. Your breakthrough is closer than you think. Just keep growing.

Stop and start

No matter where you are on your journey, successful leaders who have gone before you knew one thing – the secret is to keep growing. So keep moving. Keep deciding. Keep learning. Keep leading.

Whatever your fear – grow on purpose.

If you feel like a wannabe – grow on purpose.

If you are waiting for your “big break” (and it feels like you’ve been waiting forever) – grow on purpose.

Grow. Step up. Lead. When you’re done, do it again. There’s no better way to make maximum impact – grow on purpose.

Stop complaining, whining, and questioning yourself. Stop criticizing others. Stop blaming everyone and everything else. And start doing this one very simple (but very difficult) thing – grow on purpose.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Developing a Vision with Your Team

My team had experienced significant change and growth. I realized that the speed of change within our organization was demanding that we focus on keeping up with projects while neglecting strategic planning and development.

While this approach was productive in the short-term, I knew that it was not sustainable. So I began assessing ways to clarify priorities and unify the team around common goals and objectives.

Not enough

Hard work is not enough. Productivity is not enough. Every team needs vision!

Michael Hyatt has a great podcast that details the relationship between vision and productivity. Just as you do, I know that many organizations have detailed core values, mission statements, and vision statements. And most growing organizations review and communicate them regularly.

Our organization has them, too! But the organizational vision could not clarify what our team members belong to, what we will build, and what we will become. And we needed that – we needed a team vision.

While our team was aware of company and institutional vision statements, they had never considered a department vision or a vision for their individual positions. I also knew thatthe vision would fail if I developed it and presented it to them to adopt. I needed to give the team the opportunity to decide if they were ready to develop a vision to take our work to the next level.

Vision process

So I worked together with Building Champions executive coach Raymond Gleason, to develop the following process:

1. We setup a team meeting to discuss vision. Although I invested time and energy in planning for the meeting and assumed that they would decide to move forward, I was determined not to move forward without them. We would proceed together, or we would wait – together.

So we scheduled several hours away from the office at a local community clubhouse – a relaxing setting which facilitated great collaborative discussion of vision.

2. Prior to the meeting I circulated the Harvard Business Review article, Building Your Company’s Vision, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. I also developed a simple worksheet to help my team think through the article. I asked each team member to review the article and complete the worksheet prior to the meeting and to be prepared to discuss business vision.

3. In the meeting, we reviewed the article and worksheet – focusing on the four components of vision – core convictions, core purpose, goals, and vivid description.

4. We reviewed the organization’s Core Values, Mission, and Vision. This is particularly helpful for younger, inexperienced team members as well as new members who may not have seen them.

5. I then asked them, Does it make sense for our team to have a vision? Every one of them expressed that a team vision would add significant value to our work. Several admitted that they didn’t understand the steps necessary to develop it, but they believed it to be critical if we are to continue to grow.

Several team members readily observed that, while the organizational vision was bold and effective, it was not specific enough for our team. We needed to develop our own.

6. The next step was to set up a vision development meeting. The vision development meeting should be a minimum of a half-day meeting – a full day is better. In this meeting the group works together through the eBook, Creating Your Business Vision, and drafts the vision. You can get a FREE copy of this by clicking here.

7. Following the meeting, our team leaders finalized the vision document and distributed it to the team.

8. Then, most importantly, we’ve been sharing the vision every chance we get!

I can tell you from experience that your work, your team, your influence, your leadership, your energy, will ever be the same! Because of this one purposeful decision.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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