Where there is no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18
That simple message is so very true. All organizations, whether a Global Fortune 500 company, mid-sized, church, non-profit, or small “mom & pop”, need a vision of the future to move forward. Vision unites everyone and without one, people will shift their focus to what is important or best for themselves. Everyone doing their own thing is chaos, which soon turns into failure because no one is working together.
Leaders love visioning and planning, it’s the easier part of the equation for success.
Did you know most mergers and acquisitions fail or fail to live up to expectations, at an estimated rate of 70-90%? When you read those numbers, you quickly realize that success is rare, yet they continue to happen every year. Each one has a vision of the future and a plan that, “on paper”, looked great.
Vision alone doesn’t assure success.
I believe the flip side to the passage from Proverbs is what is most critical:
Without people, the vision will perish.
Amen! I agree 100% with that statement. It doesn’t mean leaders aren’t important, without them an organization will struggle.
Yet leaders often forget they can’t accomplish anything on their own. The performance of every leader is based on how well the people they are responsible for, perform.
If a leader realizes they are limited in what they can do on their own, what do you think their #1 priority would be? It should be people, but it isn’t always.
Employees always hear they are the top priority, but sadly in many organizations it’s been “lip service”, i.e., words only. Their actions don’t match their words. What employees need and want is too often sacrificed to unrealistic expectations or profits. Employees are left frustrated, experiencing burnout and working on their resume to find employment elsewhere.
The shortage of workers today is the result of an organizational emphasis on growth and profits, not on People!
Caring for your organization’s people starts at the very top. If you serve on a Board of Directors, recognize you are the top, and you play a critical role in two areas:
- Expectations – Are they realistic? Your (the Board’s) expectations, whether realistic or unrealistic, will flow down through the CEO onto their leaders and ultimately onto the people.
- Asking questions – What you ask about shows what’s most important. If you’re always asking about financial numbers, that’s what leadership will focus on. Never asking about how decisions impact people sends a message they aren’t important.
Senior leaders you are next. Collectively you determine organizational priorities based on how you invest the resources available to you. If you are curious how high employees are, ask yourself these five questions.
- Have we provided the necessary resources to those responsible for hiring new employees?
- Do we use our best people to welcome and orient new employees, helping them to feel good about themselves and be productive sooner?
- How much are we spending on developing leaders as compared to product or business development?
- Are we growing so fast that it’s become normal to tell departmental leaders to “just find a way” to get their work done without providing them resources to support the growth?
- Are leaders who everyone knows don’t treat employees well tolerated because we like the results they get?
That wasn’t an exhaustive list, but it’ll shine a light on what’s important in your organization. Remember, Without people, the vision will perish. You can’t afford not focusing on your people because if you don’t, it’s just a matter of when the vision perishes.