The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual. – Vince Lombardi
In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t. “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus. “These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.” “Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”
Connecting the organizational dots is imperative if you want your business or organization to succeed. If your people are in the dark as to their understanding of your organizational goals then their buy-in to the mission (providing they know it) will be lacking. If you don’t think being engaged and connected with your employees doesn’t matter – think again.
According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report,( http://ti.me/Wq0C4n) 30 percent of U.S. employees are “engaged” at work (enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and contribute to their organization in a positive manner). Gallup adds, “The rest of us are ‘emotionally disconnected’ for our workplaces, making us much less likely to be productive.” Is this an accurate reflection of your workplace? Gallup says “fifty-two percent of employees say they have basically “checked out” at work, and 18 percent say they are so unhappy they’re actually acting out their unhappiness in the workplace. What’s worse, “Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish,” the report says.
One of the essential functions for you as a leader is to help your people get connected with the mission of your organization. You are helping them pack for a journey of a lifetime. Before they embark on the trip here are four things they will need from you.
I enjoy travelling. Before departing for any new destination I will research all that I can and decide what I’d like to see and do once I get there. It builds up anticipation for the trip and helps to alleviate any potential surprises.
Essential to the success of your team is knowledge of your organizational identity. People will not buy-in to what they do not know or believe in. It is imperative for you as the leader to share your goals, vision, and mission. People want to know where they are going and a sense of what the future will look like. The first step to being connected to your mission and vision is to know where you are going.
A passport gives you access to where you want to go. It gives you the freedom to move about and enjoy new and exciting places, cultures, foods, and much more. In the same manner, your people need a passport in order to move about with the empowerment they need to do their work.
When your people have the clearance and access to move about freely to perform their jobs the possibilities are limitless as to what they can achieve. When restrictions are removed that would hold them back they can go farther, be more productive, and ultimately be more successful. Connected people are empowered people. Turn them loose and let them flourish.
“If you don’t know where you are going,” Yogi Berra said, “you might end up going someplace else.” If you don’t know where you are going your people will be disconcerted or looking for the next exit. One of the greatest benefits to being connected with your mission and vision is that it keeps everyone grounded and on the right path. It lends itself to accountability.
Your map is your guide for the future- it is your business plan, your strategic plan; call it what you will- but you need one. A useful feature of the map is that it shows the intersections and how all the roads connect. Your people need to know the importance of being connected to one another. They need to know how what they do affects their colleague down the hall, the customers who come through the door, and ultimately your bottom line. Everyone must be moving not just in the right direction, but must be moving in harmony with one another.
As a leader you must make the case for the destination. You must sell the vision and get the buy-in from those who would travel with you. You must empower your people and give them their passports – the tools they will need for the journey. You have to map out the vision – break it down so that everyone knows their role and build a culture of cooperation so no one gets lost and everyone arrives at the destination together.
John Maxwell was right when he said, “A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” As the leader, you are the guide. It’s time to get connected and show the way.
© 2014 Doug Dickerson