More than ever, we hear a call for companies to step forward and make a real difference. When it comes to business, it’s no longer enough to be the best in the world. From both the employee and the customer perspective, the real winners are the ones who also do the best for the world.
That means your company needs a visionary leader.
What is a Visionary Leader?
A visionary leader is a person who has a clear idea of how the future should look, builds the concrete steps to get there, and then leads their team toward a better future. They perfectly balance their ability to see the potential for change with their ability to lead others.
Driven and inspired by what an organization and its people can become, Visionary leaders consistently promote a culture of improvement, and they divide their attention between impacting the community, the company, and each employee.
Visionary Leaders Improve the Community
When companies have a strong focus on improving their local community or the larger world, people notice their business is doing good while also doing well. Because this “good” work attracts customers, employees, investors, and raving fans, organizations place a high value on hiring visionary leaders who can make this happen.
From their famous founder to its current CEO, Patagonia has always placed its mission to improve the environment at the top of their list of business priorities. They create sustainable apparel, offer a repair and reuse program, and even goes so far as to discourage customers from purchasing too many of their products. They also tailor their products to those sports that do not require a motor. The outdoor retailer, which booked over $1 billion in revenue last year, certainly does well. But they also do good.
Other well-known companies like Kind, Warby Parker, and Salesforce integrate their values for community improvement and volunteerism into the workforce with social innovation teams, local and international partnerships, and paid volunteer days for employees.
How Your Organization Can Do Good
Regardless of your business, it's critical that you establish a “reason for being.” Besides being a successful and profitable business, what's your purpose? Rally your people around that purpose so everyone can feel the momentum.
Also, listen to what matters to your employees.
- Is there a local organization that your people would want to partner with?
- Can you provide them with opportunities to volunteer their time and talents in the community?
Consider creating a small committee of people that can drive this effort.
Visionary Leaders Improve the Company
With each person hired, there is a subtle change to both the company culture and the business's overall trajectory. Visionary leaders recognize that every job opening is a golden opportunity to positively impact the company by increasing the total level of talent, strengthening the company culture, and improving employee engagement. They must get every hire right.
Once they get the right people on board, visionary leaders work to create and maintain healthy employee engagement levels, which we define as a person’s emotional commitment and willingness to give their very best at work.
When an employee is engaged, they fully activate their talents because they are “all in.” When an entire team of employees feels engaged, not only are they happier, but the company enjoys key business outcomes like low turnover, increased productivity and revenue, and customer retention.
How to Improve Your Organization
You always want to start by making sure you have the right people on board, and that means focusing heavily on both Talent and Fit.
Related to talent, before you make any hire, you should feel certain that they have the innate talents to achieve excellence in the job. You should also consider their fit for your company, mission, management team, customer list, and coworkers. No matter how gifted someone is, as Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, reminds us, “Do not tolerate brilliant jerks, the cost to teamwork is too high.” Get both the talent and the fit right.
Also, consider how you can increase overall employee engagement on your team using one of the four Engagement Elevators like Valued Voice. You can harness the power of Valued Voice by creating an environment of trust that allows people to participate in open, two-way communication.
A recent survey conducted by TinyPulse shows that employees point to transparency as the number one factor leading to workplace happiness. Consider how you can share information with your people about your company mission, vision, and goals.
Also, make an effort to listen. Seek opportunities to value the unique perspectives of your people and actively seek their views. Even though everyone may not have a vote, people appreciate having a voice.
Visionary Leaders Improve Each Employee
Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, often shares that if you want to grow your business, you need to “train people well enough so they can leave and treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.”
To help someone grow as a professional, which is good for them and good for the company, visionary leaders recognize the need for highly individualized management and coaching. They understand that every employee is wired a little differently, and each person brings a unique set of talents, skills, and experiences to the job.
A visionary leader throws out the one-size-fits-all approach to coaching and, instead, focuses on ways to help each individual be at their best.
How to Improve Your Employees
One of the most important ways you can work to improve each individual on your team is to consider how you can maximize their strengths and work around their weaknesses.
Remember, people can grow in an area of strength by as much as ten times, while the same effort and energy channeled toward an area of weakness will only lead to an improvement of about 10%. Using a validated talent assessment built for the specific industry and job role, identify each person’s top 3 strengths. Then, to be a great strength manager, pinpoint one thing you can do in each area to help them grow.