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  • Writer's pictureThomas E. Anderson, II

When the Founder's Vision Stops Motivating the Team

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

The vision of entrepreneurial companies is largely based on the founder’s vision.

Consider the small business owner (SBO) who decides to launch out on their own and start a new venture. (By the way, did you know that 49% of SBOs were on their last job when they decided to start a business? But I digress.) The SBO was at work and an event spurred them to act.

It could have been the desire to have more control over their financial future. Or maybe the inflexible company culture didn’t allow them to work from home. Perhaps they didn’t have much say in the bureaucratic decision-making process. Maybe their work demands didn’t leave any time to do the things that they loved to do.

Whatever the reason was, the SBO became dissatisfied with working for someone else. Whether that dissatisfaction turned to engagement is for them to say, however, they started the business to gain personal satisfaction and achievement.

Founders start companies to live out a personal vision. A study conducted by Manta-Dell 37% of SBOs started their business in response to a lifelong dream, or a need for personal fulfillment. Moreover, 46% of SBOs plan to grow and expand their business in the next 5 years. However, only 2% of SBOs considered hiring employees as their first priority when starting the business

What does that mean?

That means a number of founders are trying to motivate team members with a vision that was not designed for them.

A few years ago, I surveyed Inc5000 CEOs to find out the top challenges of fast growing companies. I asked the CEOs, “who was involved in co-creating your vision?” and received the following responses: co-founders, investors, customers. Family members even made the list.

Here’s the kicker. None of the founders surveyed co-created their vision with team members.

Why is that important?

To find out, let’s return to our example and press fast forward.

It’s 5 years later. The new company has grown my leaps and bounds. And then, the founder notices that employees are not as engaged as they once were.

Managers begin to complain about their workload. Employees are taking half-days off to interview at other companies. Hiring and retaining talented employees becomes a major challenge.

The problem of dissatisfaction appears...yet again.

Last time, the future SBO was dissatisfied. This time, the SBO is on the other side of the table.

This is a pivotal moment.

One that can make or break this next phase of anticipated growth for a small business.

And the SBO is now in a position to make a difference for their employees in a way that their employer failed to do for them.

Here’s the point:

Employees are less likely to implement a vision they did not help create.

Vision development is more than a one-off event - it's an ongoing process of using visioning, foresight, and strategic thinking to build the collective intelligence needed to implement organizational strategy.

Through foresight and strategic thinking, team members can mitigate the risks of implementing the vision – if properly engaged in the process.

Learn more about how we help senior managers to engage team members and stakeholders at every level in transforming the vision into reality.

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