Do your followers share your vision?

One of the most important things for any leader is to make sure you and your team share the same vision. This is something I have struggled with  myself this semester. For my entrepreneurship class I volunteered to be a group leader at the beginning of the semester. As a group leader I was tasked with assembling a group of people who would be interested in pursuing a business idea I pitched to them. My professor gave us the privilege of interviewing everyone in the class to determine who would be best suited to be in our group. Afterwards, myself and the other group leaders did a draft to select who we wanted in our groups.

At the time I thought I had selected a solid group, everyone I interviewed seemed legitimately interested in my business idea and each person brought their own unique set of skills to the group. It was not until about halfway through the semester when we started working on some of the finer details of the business plan that I realized certain group members did not share the same vision I did. As group leader I realized this was my fault, I had obviously not done a good enough idea conveying my vision for the company.

My business idea was to create a subscription based email newsletter that summarized sports news relevant to the area in which you worked. It was going to differ from other sports news sources in that it would be tailored towards people who did not know much about sports, and did not care to spend the time learning it but rather needed to be informed in order to better relate to coworkers and other people in the business world. Although we intend to sell sports news our true product would be rich conversation currency. The disagreement within our group came when we started talking about what all we were going to report on. I believed we would be better of sticking strictly to sports at first, whereas other people in the group thought that we should report on anything that might be relevant in the business world.

The group which consisted of seven people was pretty evenly split between the two business ideas. Three of the seven members were dead set on reporting on all new sources, while the remaining four of us wanted to pursue my original business idea. I realized that this disagreement was holding us back as we were spending most of our time arguing and not getting any work done. In order to remedy the situation I needed to unite us around a common goal. Simply saying we were going to do it my way was not enough. In order to do so I used my knowledge of entrepreneurship to convince my team the original idea was more feasible. I explained to them how when you start a business you want to have a hyper focus on  a particular customer segment. In our case that customer segment was people in the business world who may not care for sports but feel they have to understand them in order to relate to their coworkers. By targeting a narrow customer segment we would be better able to find early adopters than if we were reported on multiple types of news. I also explained how reporting on one type of news would be cheaper and more economical.

After explaining these things to my group they began to see my point of view, and had more faith in my original idea. I went on to explain how their idea of reporting on multiple types of news would be a great idea in the future but simply not feasible for a startup. By breaking down my idea and rationale I was able to convince them of my vision. Furthermore, by giving credit to their idea they were less disappointed about abandoning it. Once we found a common vision that we all shared things began to run a lot more smoothly. We stopped arguing as much, and everyone did their share of work willfully.

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