The importance of your firm's vision: It's the driving force that inspires innovation, growth and increased value for your clients.
Can you state your firm's vision? If so, great. But what about everyone else on your team? Can each team member, down to your most recent hire, articulate the same vision?
Employees may know a firm's mission or purpose, but its vision gives them direction. Vision is the driving force of the firm.
It inspires, motivates, and provides clarity for doing what employees do every day.
When a firm loses its vision — whether gradually or following a dramatic event — it loses its momentum, which is something it can't afford to lose. Lost vision causes a firm to operate in a reactionary state, leading it to become siloed and product-focused instead of client-focused.
If only a few employees have knowledge of the big picture or long-term aspirations, the firm's culture suffers. Innovation, fresh ideas and superior client service don't come as naturally and, without those injections, performance drops or remains stagnant.
The overriding mentality becomes one of getting things done instead of getting better. The first step in improving a firm's vision is to define it clearly. Then it is a matter of sharing, applying and reinforcing the vision relentlessly.
Simply put, vision is a combination of purpose and values. Your purpose is your firm's mission, which should be clear, to the point and invoke passion. How well you carry out your firm's mission is a reliable measure of your success. You can depend on your clients to tell you when you aren't living up to it.
Your values are your firm's beliefs about how it can do better. They tell your employees the behaviors to align with and tell your potential clients why they should want to work with you. A hard and fast rule: If values aren't aligned, don't engage. It will almost always negatively affect your firm and its relationships.
Your firm's vision drives its culture. When your team is aligned to the firm's vision and its values, team members are driven to work their hardest because they believe in what they are doing. Employees who have clear, meaningful direction are empowered, and they become your strongest advocates.
Their unshakable confidence engenders trust from your clients.
Once you have established your vision, communicate it through a presentation. Then follow up with an internal document, whether printed or electronic, for easy reference.
Next, establish a new-hire welcome kit to ensure that your vision is communicated to future employees. Include its most important elements when talking about your firm in the "about us' or conclusion section of new business presentations and proposals.
Your vision statement tells prospects how you think their goals can be best achieved, sets expectations for engagement and speaks to your differentiation in the market.
Because your vision is an anchor for your firm, it informs your positioning, or the message that you send when you explain who you are, what you do and why you matter. Your vision guides your strategy and the tactics you use to put it into action, as well as acting as a filter for making smart growth decisions.
When considering new business, a new hire, a new client or whether to add new strategies, ask yourself the following questions:
Does this decision align with the mission and values of our firm?
Does this decision align with our direction and long-term business goals beyond the quantitative?
Will it make us better?
The biggest threat to the strength of your vision is complacency or neglect. If it isn't resonating with your team, or is no longer relevant to your long-term goals or your evolving client base, it is time to refresh it.
The drive for innovation, growth and increased value for your clients comes from relentlessly communicating and pursuing your vision.
Here is something a very wise man once told me about vision: “Don't tell them how to build the boat. Tell them how beautiful the lands will be once they get there; they will build the boat themselves.”
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