This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Making of a Manager" by Julie Zhuo. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Why does sharing a vision matter? What are the features of a good vision statement?
One critical function managers must perform is sharing and reinforcing a powerful vision. In The Making of a Manager, Julie Zhuo discusses why a vision matters for a successful business.
Continue reading to learn how to share a vision with your team.
Features of a Good Vision Statement
As Zhuo explains, a vision statement clearly states the end goal of your team’s coordinated efforts. Ultimately, a good vision statement tells team members what they’re working toward, not how they’ll do it. The vision should be ambitious, inspiring, and easy to remember. When you share a vision with people, they should be able to picture a new and better future. Here’s an example:
- Bad vision statement: To create the best pillows on the market.
- Good vision statement: Create a pillow that earns 100,000 five-star user reviews.
Why a Powerful Vision Matters
Zhuo asserts that when people don’t feel connected to an inspiring vision, their performance will likely suffer. Why? Because they don’t clearly see that what they do makes a difference, and they’re likely to prioritize their personal ambitions over collaboration. Conversely, when team members understand and support a big vision, they’ll be motivated to do their part in moving it forward.
Also, a powerful vision helps define priorities to facilitate sound decision-making. Zhuo says every assignment and short-term objective should clearly connect with the company’s higher purpose, and you should actively avoid pursuing plans that work against the vision statement.
(Shortform note: In Start With Why, Simon Sinek refers to the process of making decisions based on your vision (your “why”) as the Celery Test. Essentially, the Celery Test helps you pinpoint “healthy” options that advance your company’s vision, and at the same time, eliminate “unhealthy” options that don’t advance the vision. When you and your team consistently use the Celery Test when making decisions, others can observe your commitment to your vision. This will attract the kinds of customers and business connections that are key to your success and your company’s growth.)
This approach will help you set goals that ensure steady progress toward your vision. Therefore, Zhuo says managers should reinforce the company’s vision by sharing it consistently—in emails, during one-on-one meetings, and at company-wide get-togethers—so it continues to function as the main reference point for everyone’s actions.
(Shortform note: To more effectively reinforce the company’s vision while sharing it with your team, communicate it through images and creative typography so it’s visually appealing and memorable. You can also post the vision on your company’s website, display it on office signage, and print it on company swag.)
When a Vision Statement Doesn’t Make Sense
Most business leaders agree that a good vision statement can be a powerful motivator. However, not everyone agrees with Zhuo that a vision statement is always appropriate. For example, Michael Watkins says to avoid sharing a vision when your company is in the midst of painful restructuring or when you’re planning major changes in your team. A lofty vision statement is meaningless and anti-inspirational when employees fear for their livelihoods.
Watkins also advises against creating a separate vision statement for your business unit when you’re part of a larger organization that already has a vision statement. Layers of vision statements create confusion and rarely add up to something inspiring.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Making of a Manager summary :
- How to build a team and motivate them to work together
- How to run productive meetings
- Tips on how to interview and hire the right employees