Several months ago, I had breakfast with Yvonne, an executive responsible for increasing profits at a hotel-management company in California. As we shared a delightful breakfast at one of her hotels, she explained, “When I first came on board nine years ago, my team was fired up. They pushed hard to reach new goals, and I rarely had to do anything to get them to want to achieve. Now, several of those high achievers are complacent. Any suggestions?”

“What’s your vision,” I asked. “What are you aiming to achieve?”

She rattled off several goals related to revenue. While such goals are certainly critical, that’s not what I meant by vision. I clarified by sharing a well-known example, that of Steve Jobs – “To revolutionize the music industry.”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “We set a vision like that … about nine years ago.”

Interesting! Nine years ago, when her team had a clear, compelling vision, they were fired up. Now that they have achieved that vision, and no longer have something inspiring to work towards achieving, she’s having a hard time getting them to work hard.

“Perhaps it’s time to set a new, inspiring, vision,” I suggested.

Just like showering every day ensures freshness, tapping into your passions as a leader and setting an inspiring, achievable vision is critical to eradicating complacency. Just ask the many people who believed in Jobs’ vision, achieved the impossible, and changed the music industry forever. 

A word of warning: This process only works when leaders truly care about clarifying their vision. Those who aren’t authentically focused on creating a big picture to inspire their teams, and who are only interested in getting their employees to care about the work in front of them, won’t get past the complacency that’s holding them back.

Keeping it simple,

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations and Hidden Heroes