Your Needs or Theirs? Why Vision Fails.

Often I hear leaders and owners say, “my team needs to get bought into my vision”. I have to be honest with you, for a long time, I thought this was true and I believed that the job of the leader was to “sell” their vision to the team like some kind of used car salesman.

However, I now believe this to be false. When I hear this statement from a client, I see it as a symptom of something bigger. Steve Jobs referenced that a vision should be so compelling that it draws people to it. I agree with the sentiment behind this belief wholeheartedly but, there can be a failure in the execution if we are not careful. What can happen is that the leader will create a vision that meets his needs (higher sales, better profit percentages, increased performance metrics, etc.), and not the needs of the team he is leading. Thus, leading the leader to make the comment, “my team needs to get bought into my vision”; which leads to more pulling and pushing than the team moving towards the actual vision on their own.

Abraham Maslow, in his Hierarchy of Needs, says that everyone has five levels of needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization; and, that a person cannot reach a deeper level (go from safety to social) until they have satisfied the previous level(s). The challenge most leaders face is that they are in one level while their team members are in different levels. The “cheese” that motivates us is not the same cheese that may motivate the rest of our team.

Leaders, it is our privilege to understand the needs of our team and create a compelling vision that encompasses those needs, as well as our own. If the vision is not motivating your team, maybe the vision is more about you than them. Ask questions like, “what is the leadership team, or organization, not giving you that you need?”, or “what is the biggest need that you have?”. The answer to this question can help you uncover the true needs of your team members. It may take some prying and further investigation to truly understand what they need, but it is well worth the time and energy.

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