John F. Kennedy and the Janitor at NASA: Why Vision is Important

Where there is no vision the people will perish.

What a great line that is prevalent today. Maybe not perish, but definitely not be engaged. We are living in unprecedented times. Now more than ever you need to have a strong leadership base, know how you lead so you can lead others well, and a strong vision to continue to lead your staff.

Leaders must have the ability to create and share a compelling vision. In times of uncertainty, in times we are currently in, if your staff does not know why they are doing what they are doing, why their role is important, then engagement and productivity will decrease.

Don’t have a vision statement? Not sure what it needs to include?

In my book, So Your Boss Can’t Lead?, I share 7 characteristics of an effective vision.

  1. The vision is future-focused and succinct.
  2. It creates meaning in workers lives.
  3. The vision helps tie the currently reality to the future.
  4. It connects people to the core values of the organization.
  5. It energizes people and creates a larger commitment.
  6. The vision is noteworthy. People remember it.
  7. It establishes a standard of excellence.

When you have done these things well, you will know it by the words and actions of your employees.

President Kennedy and the Janitor at NASA

Have you heard about the interaction between President Kennedy and the janitor at NASA? The story below has floated around.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy was visiting the NASA space station. He saw a janitor walking and carrying a broom. President Kennedy interrupted the tour and walked over to the man. He introduced himself and then asked, “What are you doing?”

“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

For most people doing this job, they are just cleaning the building. But he understood that his contribution was a part of a larger part to the organization.

Now whether this really happened or not has been debated. The point of the story still remains.

When your people understand the vision of the organization, when they understand that no matter how small or how large their role is they are an important piece of the puzzle, when they understand that what they accomplish today takes them and the organization to the future, you will get people like the janitor at NASA who did his job with the larger picture in mind.

When Your Passionate People Become Quiet

I love the quote by Tim Mclure that states “The biggest concern for an organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.”

The participation of your people is critically important. You need to have advocates, the people who are all in, and who are positive about what is happening. Positivity is contagious. And so is negativity.

Especially during the time we are in.

Pay attention to your people. And if your passionate people have suddenly become quiet, it’s time to check in on them. It’s also time to evaluate your leadership.

Have you stopped paying attention to your staff?

Have you stopped communicating well with them?

Was trust broken in some way?

Is there a lack of vision?

If there is a lack of vision, see if your vision statement has any of the characteristics listed above. If you aren’t sure if your company has a vision statement, send me a message and let’s chat.

Stephanie

 

If you are a leader or emerging leader who wants to lead with meaning and purpose, then let’s connect. Join me at the Emerging Leaders Network, a community designed for leaders to collaborate on best practices and discuss issues to become great leaders.

P.S.- Continue the conversation on Facebook! I would love to hear how I can help you on your journey. To receive up to date content, sign up to receive my free 13 Simple Actions To Increase Engagement by Becoming a Better Leader and See Your Revenue Grow guide on the home page and posts will be delivered right to your inbox.  If Facebook isn’t your favorite social media site, you can connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



Stephanie German is a leadership coach, adjunct professor, and dedicated work-from-home mom. She holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and loves giving back to her community in a variety of ways. When she’s not coaching clients or writing about leadership, Stephanie is usually headed to the mountains or the beach with her family, drinking savory wine, or working on the latest project with her husband. Stephanie’s greatest desires are to nurture the next generation of leaders while raising her own children to be strong, independent, and brave. She lives in Fresno, California with her husband Blake and her three spunky daughters, Cara, Kinsey, and Peyton. She is the best-selling author of So Your Boss Can’t Lead?

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