Will Smith Speaks the Truth Every Entrepreneur Needs to Hear
This summer featured Cannes Lions, the advertising industry gathering where corporate heavyweights mix with celebs mix with artists mix with lots of wine and sun.
Amid all that buzz, one voice stood out. It was world-famous actor Will Smith talking about success. In a conversation in front of hundreds of advertisers, Smith—who I still remember as the “Fresh Prince”—talked about how, at a certain point, winning felt an awful lot like losing.
“I had so much success that I started to taste global blood, and my focus shifted from my artistry to winning. I wanted to win and be the biggest movie star,” he said. “I found myself promoting something because I wanted to win versus promoting something because I believed in it.”
Smith specifically talked about marketing the film Wild Wild West, which was an international hit—generating more than $200 million in revenue worldwide—but represented a low point in his career.
Those words ring truer and truer each day as I talk to entrepreneurs for Radiate. Jack Welch likes to talk about how good it feels to win. That’s pretty damn true—but winning alone is not enough. Winning with purpose ought to be the reason why you’re in the game.
So, how do you convey purpose to your team? How do leaders ensure not only that employees are performing optimally, but that they are all working in the service of that higher mission? Here are three ways that high-performing companies and CEOs ensure that every team member is on the same page.
1. Write a mission statement.
Companies can spend a day or a month on this project. The document can be long or short, flowery or concise. The important thing to remember is that the mission statement does not exist to help you; it exists to clarify how you can help others. Start by asking, “Why does X company even exist?” You’ll soon find out whether you’re building this company for the common good, or for yourself.
2. Find your team members’ strengths.
It’s very easy to find the weaknesses in your team members. The harder part is finding their strengths and doubling down on them. When you find those strengths, and let your members cultivate them, you’ll be amazed at how creative and productive your team can be. Also, it gives people a sense of pride and purpose to do something they both love and are good at. Maybe it’s organization. Maybe it’s coding. Maybe it’s hustling. Finding that strength—whatever it may be—will make work far more rewarding for everyone in your organization.
3. Give critical feedback.
It’s always surprising to me how few managers want to give critical feedback. Regular feedback gives your direct reports a sense that they are improving, even when the process itself is uncomfortable. Not giving feedback, meanwhile, can lead to confusion and despair. After all, knowing what you’re not doing right means you’re one step closer to correcting it. Not knowing is both painful and unproductive. Everyone makes mistakes, and the best leaders are the ones who accept those mistakes as a part of growing. The key is to balance that feedback with plenty of praise when appropriate. Our experts weigh in on this delicate balance in a recent Radiate video:
Finding your business’s purpose is difficult, but rewarding. Once you’ve established that “true north,” pick up the flag, gather your team, and go for it!
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