I was having coffee with a friend and colleague of mine today, Dr. Julie Miller, and she was talking about her new venture. She’s had a very successful career and found that she wanted to do more. Last year she created a program that really inspires employees to access that “self-starter” gene and take some initiative within companies to make a difference.
What intrigued me most about her topic was that she starts with three very clear premises, Vision, Passion and Perseverance. Of course, I’ve talked a lot about Vision and Passion and that one without the other doesn’t work. I believe that you must have both to achieve your dreams, but she adds the component of Perseverance. She’s not as interested in entrepreneurs as I am. Her interest is in large corporations harnessing the self-starter in everyone and by doing so the organization will thrive. She helps employees to connect to the organization’s Vision, (I would venture to say that most can’t), then connect to their Passion and why they are there. She then asks them to see how the company has persevered in spite of circumstances to achieve the Vision.
There are a lot of learning moments in this exercise. I think the question for entrepreneurs is – how would your employees respond to this? All of these items are the basis for your organization’s culture, and if they don’t have an answer, they’re making one up that is not a reflection of what you originally intended. It might be worth it for you to do a little informal survey and ask employees what your vision is and why are you passionate about what you do? How do you think they will respond? At minimum, your management team should have the right answers. If they don’t, it’s time to rethink how you are communicating these critical messages.
You, the entrepreneur and leader are the shepherd of the Vision. If your flock doesn’t follow, you have problems. It’s your passion that will inspire theirs. And if they can’t answer how the company has persevered or weathered through hard times or crisis, how do they know what the real heart and soul of the company is? Employees want to know you’re here to stay and that they have some sense of security. The old model of the stoic leader that keeps all the bad news to him or herself is not allowing the team to help, nor learn from adversity, and more importantly, not allowing them to see how the company has persevered in service of the Vision.
So you want self-starters and initiative on your teams? Make sure they have the basic ingredients to generate it – Vision, Passion and Perseverance.