Corporate vision statements. We hear a lot about creating them. We hear a lot about casting them from the executive office. But what happens when the vision statement leaves the corporate office? How is it actually brought to life in an organization?
In reality, that task often falls on the shoulders of so-called “Middle Leaders.” The Middle Leaders have a tremendous role in bringing a company’s vision to life on a day-to-day basis, and with that comes a rather unique challenge: they are tasked with implementing a corporate vision that they (usually) did not create. That can be a complex undertaking, and it’s one that Ron Minatrea understands very well.
You may not know Ron, but he spent over 30 years at Motorola, starting as an engineer and working his way up to the executive office. Along the way, he also spent time as a Middle Leader. Today, Ron is a leadership speaker and executive coach, and he has a real passion for helping Middle Leaders navigate some of the unique challenges they face (like, how to get on board with a vision you didn’t create).
When Ron joined The Speakers Group’s founder, Shawn Ellis, on The Better Life/Better Business Podcast, he shared some advice on how Middle Leaders can meaningfully engage with their company’s vision. You can listen to the full interview here, but in the meantime, here is the three-step process he shared:
Step #1: Be intentional, see potential
While Middle Leaders might not have created the vision, they help implement it across the company. Ron points out that while this topic is often overlooked, we should take the time to explore what it truly means for a leader to catch a vision. As leaders in our workplace, we should be intentional about how we engage with the vision. Rather than thinking of the vision as a static symbol or statement, Ron describes a vision as “our ability to look at what is and see what can be in it. A company’s vision… should create a visual image of the state of being that we’re trying to become.”
Middle Leaders need to identify what the vision is (and can be), understand it, and then help show others the potential within that vision.
“This will include elements of character and the culture of the company,” Ron said. “Obviously, it needs to be clear and it needs to be compelling… If you put all of these things together, I think what we’re really trying to catch is what… our corporate DNA would be. What is the DNA of our company?”
Step #2: Assess your buy-in
Now that the vision is established, the next step is for the Middle Leader to assess whether they buy into this vision. The key, according to Ron, is for these leaders to create a personal alignment with this mission and vision and values. This greatly contributes to Middle Leaders’ sense of fulfillment in their careers because the work is not just something they are doing for the company but it is also something that is contributing to their personal goals.
A great piece of advice that Ron offered is that creating this alignment “doesn’t mean that our vision has to be the same vision—it just means they have to be complementary, and our character has to be in common.” Having a personal vision that is compatible with their company’s vision can lead to a greater sense of accomplishment for Middle Leaders.
Step #3: Cast your vision to the team
The third step of this approach is to take what you’ve gleaned about your company’s vision and cast it to the team. Ron suggests that Middle Leaders act as a type of translator: they should explain the vision “in the native language of the team… translate it and convey it at the shop floor level or field office level.”
Middle Leaders might wonder how they factor into their company’s vision; after all, they were not the ones to create it. By taking these three steps to see potential in your company’s vision, buy in to this vision, and cast the vision to the team, Middle Leaders will feel engaged in the process by encouraging team members to support their company’s vision.
Like this? Learn more about how you can hire Ron to speak at your next meeting.