I once recall a global executive team at a Fortune 100 company coming to headquarters for a 3 day retreat on their vision for the future. Unbeknownest to the 100 leaders who showed up, for the previous three months, a team of four people, handpicked by the CEO, had been holed up in a room creating the draft vision. It was then embedded in a large, five color glossy poster that was placed in the front of the meeting hall.
For the next day, the CEO and his team provided the context and background for the development of this really cool vision statement. The morning of the second day, there were breakout sessions and opportunities to ask questions. That afternoon, each leader was expected to come to the front of the room and sign the vision poster. They were not exactly scrambling for their pens. In fact, the request simply sucked all the energy out of the room. Later that day, the CEO was found in one of the breakout rooms almost in the fetal position bemoaning the failure of the retreat.
He had forgotten one very critical principle of leadership: Ownership. They simply didn’t own it. It’s like the dog food story so many of us have heard about–after the million dollar ad campaign no one bought the dog food–because the dogs didn’t like it.
People take care of what they own. They don’t wash rented cars. If you want your people to own your vision, mission, strategy, or anything else, make sure it’s shared by them–that they own it.