7 Steps to Ensure You’re Valuing Your Team as You Pursue Your Vision
May 24, 2021
Accomplishing a vision is not easy. Accomplishing a great and noble vision is harder still. When you have a vision that you feel so passionate about that you would give your life to, failure is not an option. Too many people are depending on you. It could be your customers or your shareholders. If you are leading a non-profit, there could be those that are in dire need for the care that your organization can give them. How can you disappoint such people?
When the stakes are highest, when the cause of the mission seems vital, ironically that’s where people can be most at risk and most vulnerable. How can that be? There is a saying, “The path to hell is paved with good intentions.” In our desire to accomplish a worthy mission, sometimes people can be the casualty. We can be short with them. If they aren’t meeting our expectations, we sideline them or get rid of them. We expect people to work long hours. The standard is perfection. Anything less is just not good enough. Don’t they realize that in some cases, for instance with a worthy nonprofit, that lives are at stake? We don’t have time to mollycoddle our team. They will have to shape up, or find work elsewhere. This cause, this crusade, is too important.
Ironically, crucible leaders, those men and women who have come out of the ashes of a crucible experience, can be most at risk. Often a crucible leader’s vision is formed from what he or she went through in a crucible. Crucible leaders may not want anyone to suffer the way they suffered. They can have almost a missional zeal to accomplish their vision. Zeal is good, but beware a zeal that tramples people on the way.
There is a Scripture in Mark that says, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” This has a particular context in the Bible, but more broadly the point here is that what good is it if we accomplish our mission at the expense of trampling on our team, the people who work with us?
Here are some thoughts on balancing the task, the mission, and the people who help you carry it out.
1. Value your team.
No vision, no matter how important it is, is worth sacrificing your team. That does not mean putting up with people who don’t buy into your vision, are not working hard, and are a poor fit for the position they are in. Yes, you want a committed team who are as passionate as you are about the vision. But it is dangerous to say, “Victory at all costs!” Trampling on people to accomplish your vision is not worth it.
2. It is the mission and your team.
Both are important. Bryan Price, a West Point graduate, former army officer and currently the director of the Buccino Institute at Seton Hall University, told me this philosophy from the U.S. military: “Mission first, people always.” As leaders we have to balance achieving the mission and making our visions reality, with caring for our people. It is a both, and. It must be a both, and. Ironically, if we value our team, listen to them and care for them, the chance of our vision becoming a reality is greater not less. If you care about your vision, care about your people.
3. Check your ego.
Sometimes achieving our vision can be wrapped up in our ego. We want redemption, we want retribution. We want success or achievement. We want self-respect. If our motivation is colored by such emotions, it can lead us to treat people in ways we would not want to treat them; and frankly we may end up treating people in ways that go against our fundamental beliefs and values.
4. Focus on the process, not the outcome.
If you have a clear vision, a well thought-out strategy and a great team, focus on what you have to do today, this week, this month. You cannot control the results, however much you try, and however much you feel that the success of your mission is vital. You may well believe that your vision has to become reality, that so many people are depending on this. But in life, much is beyond our control. We can’t control the economy, or what the competition does, or the impact of shifts in government policy or what potential consumers or users’ value. If we have done our best with a clear vision, a great strategy and a fantastic team, that has to be enough.
5. Be willing to apologize.
Sometimes we get so passionate about our vision that it can be easy to get short with people and trample on them in our zeal to accomplish the vision. We are all human. When we misstep, as we all inevitably will, that is when we need to apologize and help people understand that in our passion for the vision we sometimes get carried away. If you have a team that is also passionate about the vision, they will understand.
6. Talk to your team and let them know that moving forward it must be the vision and the team.
You want to hear their perspective. Let them know that their opinions do matter. Create a safe place where people feel heard and can share their opinions.
7. Walk the talk.
Great speeches about the mission, unity and teamwork are all good. But you have to live your message. You have to almost daily tell yourself to let go and not hold on too tightly. There is a phrase, “Let go and let God.” More broadly, this means doing our best, but not wrapping up our self-worth in the outcome. Trust to God, fate or the universe, that if we and our team are doing their best, that what is meant to happen will happen.
Your vision matters. It may have emerged from the ashes of a soul-crushing crucible that you have come out of. You genuinely want to make a difference in the world. You want to help people. But if in trying to help people, you run over them, is it all really worth it? The answer is no.
By striving for a noble vision and caring for your team along the way, the journey towards achieving your vision will be worth it. If you are hoping for a life of significance, a life on purpose that is dedicated to serving others, a life that will bring you joy and fulfillment, a life that will give you a legacy that you and those that love you can be proud of, then be as committed to your team as you are to your vision.
- Assess the state of your team. Are they committed to the vision and eager for the journey ahead, or do they seem disheartened and ready to check out?
- Have some honest conversations with your team. Let them know that they are just as important as achieving the vision, no matter how noble you and they feel the vision is.
- Walk the talk. Check your ego at the door. Let go of the outcome. “Let go and let God.”