“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Most businesses agree that their staff are the most valuable assets within their business. Assuming this is correct, how effectively staff are deployed becomes a critical factor in the success or failure of the business.
While the quote above may indicate that the CEO or leader needs to lay out a grand vision or mission for the organisation, I think has a simpler message.
There are two components to this quote: 1. Painting, 2. Teaching.
Laying out the vision for your organisation is not enough.* You need to teach your team to dream by themselves.
The biggest driver of motivation will come when your team is capable of dreaming about their own personal growth within your system; this is a capability and something that must be first created, and then taught by the founders. Paint the picture of the endless sea, and then teach them to paint it themselves. Each person is unique, and they will find a different part of the endless sea appealing. Some may dream about fighting off sea monsters, others may dream of calm skies and a peaceful journey.
The payoff to the organisation is incredible; highly motivated staff who will join you on your business journey, who will suffer with you, who will help you build and re-build after the challenges you will face.
For practical tips on how to paint and teach, I recommend reading "Dream Big". The founders have laid out the principles by which they were able to drive their team to accomplish incredible business feats.
* After all, how many companies have failed despite having empowering visions or missions?