By Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Most successful leaders not only have an idea of what they want from their day-to-day operations, but they also have a vision for what the company will become three-to-five years down the road.
A leader with a crystal-clear, long-term vision can win over the toughest crowds.
Take Roger Penske, for example. When he bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in November 2019, he received widespread support, even from rival team owners. That’s because he talked about breaking the glass of longtime barriers and taking risks that will pay off in the long run. He also gained support by giving back to the community and hosting mass vaccination clinics at the Speedway.
Then in early 2020, when the Indy 500 race was postponed and ultimately held without paying fans, he did not panic. But when asked about the challenges of a pandemic, he understated in a media article: “Any time you buy a business, there are always unanticipated challenges in the first couple of years!” He did not panic in the face of a pandemic not experienced in over 100 years. He has an identified vision as the “new steward” of IMS as a racing institution.
Think about the barriers you face and the risks you’re compelled to take. Whether you’re a CEO, department head or manager, you may not know all the steps needed to achieve your vision. But can you assemble a team that will help you build that path toward your goals?
Think about your younger employees. What millennial and Gen Z team members consider a “success” isn’t what you’ve historically considered a success. For example, while you focus on revenue and profitability (yes, very important!), younger generations measure the success of a business based on its community outreach and impact. To which local charities do you donate and/or allow employees to perform community service projects for? How do you publicly encourage diversity (in all its forms) in the workplace? The acronyms of DEI and ESG are important to them.
If you are flexible and listen to your team members, they will let you know what aspects of their employment is important to them.
Confidence is also key! Your calm, confident demeanor can carry the team over hurdles that would otherwise kill a company. That’s the power of positive thinking. Your LEADERSHIP and VISION are critical components.
The business world is rapidly ever-changing — not just because of economic challenges and generational differences. Successful businesses have always been about innovation and adaptation. That’s why you should take time away from your day-to-day operations to crystallize the long-term vision for your enterprise or operating group within the larger business. You will need to disclose that vision and show your colleagues your plan to achieve that vision within your designated time frame.