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Senior Leadership - Evangelizing Your Vision

Being able to imagine and articulate an organizational vision has always been an important leadership trait. But just because your employees are listening to you, it doesn’t always mean they believe in what you’re saying. Whether you’re trying to innovate to move your organization forward or looking to change your strategic focus, getting employee buy-in starts with a little inspiration. Formal town halls and emails announcing your vision let people know what your vision is from a rational point of view, but inspiring employees by your vision means you need to connect with them at an emotional level. This is done most effectively by connecting (face-to-face if possible) with as many people as possible, and letting your enthusiasm shine through as you talk to them informally.

Goal


Evangelize your organizational vision to increase employee buy-in and engagement.

What is evangelism in the workplace?
When you hear the word evangelize, the first thing that often comes to mind is ‘preaching the gospel’. While true, evangelizing is no longer reserved for the Evangelicals. According to Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist of Apple refers to evangelism as explaining to the world how your product or service can improve people’s lives. Kawaski began his career at Apple as a software evangelist and was solely responsible for evangelizing Apple products to software developers. Later as Apple’s Chief Evangelist, Kawaski describes his role on LinkedIn as “to protect and preserve the Macintosh cult by doing whatever I had to do.”

How can leaders evangelize their vision?
It’s no surprise that Evangelist roles have been around for quite some time in Silicon Valley. For most organizations, hiring someone to take on this role isn’t necessary. In fact, the message is more credible if it comes from leaders themselves. However, leaders can learn a thing or two from the tech world when it comes to articulating their organizational vision by showing how its put into action and living it in everything they do. There are two components that cause a disconnect between employees and organizational vision:
Employees not knowing what the vision is, and/or
Not understanding how they personally contribute to it.
To address this, managers must share and encourage organizational vision not only through words, but also in their actions. Great leaders inspire others, and management’s behavior and enthusiasm expressing their vision sets a positive example for others. Just like Kawaski won over third-party software developers through his devotion to Apple, evangelizing your vision can help win employees over, and in turn, get them excited about sharing the vision.

How does evangelizing your vision improve employee engagement and culture?
According to Well-Being Index, purpose-driven people are four times as likely to be engaged at work. They are emotionally invested in what they do, and focus on creating value through their efforts. Of course not everyone is a purpose-driven person, but as humans, it’s natural for us to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

Basically, employees who are engaged in and care about the company’s vision will go above and beyond their duties to achieve it — and they will have no problem spreading the word. So how do you get your company’s vision out there in situations other than a town hall meeting? Read on to find out.

Action


Evangelize Your Vision

Tell a story - Everyone loves a good story. Instead of repeating your vision statement over and over again, create a story that will not only inspire them, but encourage them to share. Remember, a good story needs to have a message, a purpose, and a point. For tips and techniques, check out the article Why and How to Use Storytelling to Communicate Your Vision.(This can be found under the section How Does Evangelizing Your Vision Improve Employee Engagement.)

Lead by example (“Walk the walk”) - There’s nothing more inspiring for employees than seeing their bosses practice what they preach. Leaders are responsible for generating commitment to their organization’s vision, and doing so requires displaying consistent behavior. Have monthly meetings with your management team to ensure everyone is aligned on the company vision and that the right message is being communicated.

Identify to employees their role in the vision - Depending on the size of your organization, have bi-monthly one-on-ones with each employee or department to discuss how they are personally contributing to the vision. This is a great opportunity to get employees excited about where the company is going and stay engaged. If needed, involve HR in the process to help explain the purpose of different role and/or disciplines.

Provide a forum for employees to share their thoughts and opinions - Try hosting a workshop or seminar that will give employees the opportunity to have a say in the vision — especially if your organization is headed in a new and/or different direction. This will help encourage employee buy-in and allow them to feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Reference Material
To Lead, Create a Shared Vision
Do You Have A Vision? If You Have One, Is It Lame?
The Best Ways to Communicate Your Organization’s Vision

Updated on: 08/31/2023

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