Adapted from Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that in an environment where there is a shared vision of excellence…where people can be the best they can be on a daily basis…where, when they know what is expected of them…understand that reward is linked to performance…and BELIEVE they can make a difference because they will be heard…they WILL make a difference. They will go BEYOND our expectations and great things will start to happen.”
FedEx founder & CEO, Frederick W. Smith (Rhodes College 2/25/88)
Every major achievement in the history of mankind has been accompanied by one thing – significant, as in capital “C” Commitment on the part of one or more people. Think about it… Absent real Commitment, Christopher Columbus would have waited for better maps before sailing off the edge of the known universe… Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have marched in Selma, Alabama… and early NASA astronauts would have voted to send more monkeys up before strapping their butts to a relatively untested rocket. And on Presidents Day, let us remember President John F. Kennedy, without whose vision and Commitment there would have been no astronauts.
So where does Commitment start? It starts with an extremely well grasped destination or journey… a place, a concept, an over-arching purpose. What are we here for? What’s our raison d’etre? Where are we going?
Dr. King was attempting to take a people, a nation, indeed the world to a new and different place, a place where the color of one’s skin was no longer a boundary. Genentech (now part of Roche) exists to enhance people’s quality of life by inventing and marketing products that prevent, diagnose, and treat unconquered diseases. The more important question is, why does your organization exist? Where is it going, and how well do you tell that story?
Despite the billions spent every year on internal corporate communications, most organizations do a miserable job of helping their people understand the direction, goals, and priorities of the business, let alone securing their Commitment to them. If you doubt the magnitude of this “failure to communicate” claim, take five minutes and go do some field research of your own.
Ask a sample of your people to jot down what they believe to be the organization’s three highest priorities and where they think it is headed. Do it today. When the answers come back without any degree of consistency, the question is obvious: If they don’t know where you’re going, how can they possibly help you get there? But don’t feel bad, though. We have asked this question not just of ground level workers, but hundreds of C-level execs in our BottomLine Leadership program for the last eighteen years, and the result is exactly the same, every time. Nobody knows! And when the top ten or twelve people in an organization can’t consistently articulate the direction or top priorities, things are really getting slowed down.
Get busy, and make it a great day!