Category Archives: Team Building

Developing a Compelling Vision Statement for Your Team

developing team vision statement

Creating and defining a vision statement for your team can be tough.  What do you include?  What do you exclude?  How long or short do you make it?  There are a lot of thoughts that go into defining the vision for your team or business.

Here are some tried-and-true methods for not only defining your vision, but for developing a compelling vision statement for your team that will get them motivated, empower them to work, and engage them and your organization for success.

The Vision Statement Must Be Clear.

Clarity around a vision and goal is one of the things that separates high-performing teams from ineffectively functioning teams, according to the authors of Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong. A sense of mission is a characteristic of both top-performing teams and leaders.

Mission can be defined as a vision of a future state that inspires action.  The vision has to be clear.  People want to know where they are going, what they need to do to get there, and what’s in it for them.  Beyond money, bonuses, or tangible rewards, people will get behind a challenging goal that is bigger than themselves

Think about the teams you’ve either led or been on.  When there was a clear vision, were you more or less productive?  More or less stressed?  When a clear vision is defined, it is much easier to know when you’re on and off course and know what you need to do to adjust.

The Vision Statement Must Be Compelling.

In additional to clarity, a vision must also be compelling.  It must drive production and goals. Each project and every goal work to further the vision of the organization.

A compelling vision encourages risk.

This kind of vision encourages risk, not perfection.  Teams are encourage to develop risky goals to meet risky objectives.  (This is not risk for the sake of risk, but a mission that drives teams and people to risk more than they would otherwise.)

A compelling vision inspires ownership.

A vision like this assumes people are capable of not only working toward the mission, but also contributing ways to achieve the vision.  People want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves.  A compelling vision produces the idea that the person’s work is meaningful beyond just the paycheck.

A compelling vision empowers teams to action.

Have you ever been so engrossed in completing a project that you totally lost track of time?  A compelling vision can do that, especially if it makes a difference.  People love to rally around a cause.  It creates a sense of urgency, moving people to take action.

The Vision Statement Must Be Communicated.

You might think that since you created a clear and compelling vision statement that everyone would think about it and obsess over it as much as you do.  You would be wrong.  For most people, the vision statement must be communicated on a consistent basis.

In order to communicate your vision statement effectively, it must be short enough to memorize, but long enough to include key components. For example, a local school district’s vision statement is: “To graduate every student prepared for success beyond high school.” This is a very compelling mission statement.  It is short enough to memorize.  It is also not too specific regarding “success”.  Will success look the same for every student graduating high school?  Of course not; however, this district desires to achieve success with every student, regardless of how that looks.

Vision statements are great if they are communicated.  They are fairly useless if they are not.  People forget.  They get busy.  Team members get distracted with the day to day tasks and tend to lose sight of the overall vision.  Team leaders need to keep the vision in front of people.  Remind them why they are doing the day-to-day tasks.  Leaders remind people of their purpose in the grand scheme of things and why each person is important to the overall vision.

Ways to communicate your vision:

– Talk about it.

– Celebrate team members who embody it.

– Display it everywhere.

– Invite dialogue around it.

– Get feedback from others.

– Create “calls to action” around it.

The Vision Statement Must Be a Commitment.

To have a vision statement is one thing.  To be committed to it is altogether quite different.  Most companies these days have a mission or vision statement.  How many in the company know what it is?  Or seek to work by it on a daily basis?

The best teams and leaders know the vision statement and are committed to seeing it lived out day by day.  It’s part of the DNA of the organization and each team and team member strive to work towards the vision.  Every goal that is set and every project undertaken is driven to fulfill the vision.

How else do you create a clear and compelling vision statement for your team?  What ways do you communicate and commit to it?

7 Team Building Lessons I Learned from White Water Rafting

Group retreat events - river rafting

Last week, while on vacation, I went on a whitewater rafting adventure with some of my family.  We were on a Class IV (advanced) section of the Clear Creek river outside of Idaho Springs, Colorado.  The company we went with was Liquid Descent, and our guide was Alan (he was awesome!)

It was a great thrill and a rush of adrenaline.  We got through the whole half-day without anyone falling out and having a blast. Here are the team building lessons I learned from our experience.

Read more

Team Building Lessons I Learned from a Family Kayak Adventure

Team building kayak family adventure

Last week, I went on a kayaking trip with my family and some of my wife’s extended family. We rented kayaks and SUP’s (Stand Up Paddleboards for the newbies reading this) 🙂 at a local marina in the town where we were staying.

We went on a 2-hour jaunt on a lake outside of Breckenridge, Colorado. The water was a bit chilly but it was a fun trip. Here are some team building observations and lessons I gathered from our adventure.

You can’t paddle for everyone.

When you are in separate boats, it is impossible to paddle for other people.  You have to do the work yourself in order to make your boat move.  You are in control of what is directly around you and can’t control other people’s boats.

In business, leaders often try to tell people what to do and how to do their jobs. It’s frustrating for employees when their bosses micromanage every detail of their work. In short, it’s an issue of trust and control.

What if I jumped on someone else’s paddle board because they weren’t paddling the exact way that I would? The results would be disastrous, potentially ending with both of us getting soaked.

Freedom + coaching = great excitement.

My son is 7. He started out on a paddle board but we quickly realized that wasn’t the best option for him, so we switched him to a kayak. He wasn’t thrilled with getting off the SUP, but he finally agreed.

He started out tethered to another boat, but quickly wanted to be more independent. Since I have been before and am a strong paddler, I decided to stick by him and let him go on his own. He did a great job, and was super excited to be free and “flying solo”. I continued to coach here and there, but also tried to give him lots of encouragement.  [I was rather impressed since this was the first time he had ever been kayaking.]

When we’re working with teams, we need to give people freedom to do their jobs, while also standing by them and being willing to coach as necessary (with lots of encouragement as well).  According to, one of the top things employees desire is autonomy.

What would have happened if I had not let my son boat on his own?  More than likely, no one would have had a lot of fun.  What was the worst that could have happened by letting him boat on his own?  He could have fallen out (doubtful, though, but he was also wearing a life jacket), and I would have had to go rescue him.  It was the best decision at the time, and one in which he excelled.

What would be the worst that would happen by allowing your employees more autonomy?

Set a vision for the end result.

On our adventure, no one was designated as the leader, but we got to our destination anyway. We didn’t have an agenda and weren’t really concerned with going too far, so no agenda or direction was no big deal.

However, with a team of people, it is necessary to set a direction and vision, and keep it in front of your team. The likelihood of not giving direction and an end result and everyone ending up at the same destination is virtually impossible.

Communicate roles and expectations.

Alongside of a clear vision, everyone needs to know their roles and expectations.  I knew my role was to stay by my son and assist if he needed help.  With the items we rented, we had to share and switch off so everyone would have the opportunity to try different things.  Our expectations were also to have fun and be back within 2 hours (since this is the amount of time we rented our boats for).

In the world of work, communication is critical.  People need to know what their role is in the team, along with the expectations that accompany their specific role.  When these things break down, people are left feeling as if they’re in the dark and unimportant.

When roles and expectations are defined clearly, people can excel at their specific function and also know when things need to be adjusted.  When leaders set specific objectives and boundaries for those, they also have a way to determine when people are not meeting goals and have leverage for those not meeting expectations.

What roles and expectations do you need to set or clarify with your team?  How will you evaluate and adjust those?

Have you ever been kayaking or boating with a group?  What leadership principles can you learn from such an adventure?



« Older Entries Recent Entries »