1 - Cast a Vision

Dream Big


In this first part of the course, Don addresses the most fundamental part of being a leader: vision. Don spent over twenty years as the Chief Operating Officer, working alongside Walmart founder Sam Walton and helping to create and implement the vision for the company. Without a gripping destination for every work to pursue, a company can quickly stagnate. In this video, Don discusses the critical responsibility every executive leader has to create a captivating vision for the company. 



Senior leaders are responsible for casting and circulating the company’s vision. A good vision becomes the driving purpose that solicits and aims the talents of the company’s employees. Don argues that vision is even more important than a business’s bottom line. It’s something even grander than a profitable fiscal year. 

Does your business have a vision? If so, what is it? If not, what has the company prioritized as an informal goal?
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Does the vision of your company shape its direction in the marketplace? If not, why not? What takes precedence?
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Don points out that a vision should aim at something virtuous. For Walmart, it’s to decrease the cost of living for people near one of their stores. What virtuous goal can your company aim for? How would that change the vision statement of your business?
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Don also highlighted the importance of guiding values. Values, he says, are the buoys that keep the business headed toward its vision. Without solid values, a vision will remain nothing more than a nice idea. 

What values guide your business toward the primary vision? If your company hasn’t expressed explicit values, what implicit values guide the business?
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Vision and values work together to shape the behavior of employees. What would your company culture look like with a compelling vision and strong values?
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Don concluded by pointing out that a company with solid vision and values creates an environment where employees want to do even more than what they’re asked to do. But it begins with the leadership modeling in their own lives the vision and values of the company. Without a living example, the employees of a company will struggle to believe the company’s values and vision. 

How can you live out the vision and values of your company today? What, if anything, would need to change in how you conduct yourself to demonstrate your business’s values to your employees?
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Do your people know and embrace the vision and values of your company? If not, what can you do today to begin to cast that vision wide?
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Vision and the values that guide a company toward that vision are the most important pieces of leadership. Senior executives carry the responsibility of leading their people to a daring destination and modeling the company’s values every day. As you develop your own leadership, remember the important role that vision plays for the entire company. 

 
The Power of Personal Vision


Casting a vision for an entire company can transform the culture and direction for everyone in the business. But what about on a smaller scale? What role does a leader play in casting a vision for the individual employees in his or her business? Listen as Don shares the story of the single most powerful conversation he ever had—an unlikely leader who transformed Don’s career with a just a few words. 



Don credits the uncomfortable meeting with an unlikely ally as the turning point for his career. His vision of his own potential changed in one simple conversation, and launched Don on a path that would take him to great heights as a business leader. A few words made a big difference. 

Have you ever had someone cast a vision for your own potential? If so, how did it affect your life? Your career?
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In your business, who could you challenge to become a better version of themselves?
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What is one other insight you gained from Don’s story? How can you apply it to your leadership today?
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We know that words have power, but coming from a leader, they can transform people. As you lead your company, keep your eyes peeled and ears open for opportunities to cast a vision for the individuals in your company. You may have an impact on them that lasts for decades. 

Company Culture Matters


Every organization has a culture—some grow out of the vision that the leadership create. Others develop through the execution of implicit values among the employees and leadership. In either case, the culture of a company is the key to its success. In the following video, Don talks about the important role that leaders have in shaping a culture.  


Would you say the culture of your company is intentional or accidental? Why is it that way?
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Don points out that the vision of the company drove the culture. What would your company look like if it was shaped entirely by the vision and values of the business?
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 Culture grows out of values and the vision that leadership provide for the company. If you don’t intentionally develop a solid vision and values, the culture of your business may turn out in a way you don’t like. Culture takes work.

Build a Culture Intentionally


Sam Walton founded Walmart, and his vision and values shaped the culture of his company. He’s impacted people across the world through his leadership. Don shares how Sam’s leadership impacted his own leadership style, but also the steps that Don took to ensure that the culture that Sam created lived on after the founder died. 


Don described Sam Walton as the toughest boss he ever knew, but also the most compassionate. How can these two character traits work together in a business leader? What would they look like in your own leadership?
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Don believes that the growth of a culture must be intentional. Sam, and later Don, took intentional steps to create a healthy, compassionate culture for the company. What areas in your business have you intentionally shaped to reflect a healthy culture?
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What is one change you can make in your company’s practice that would help to intentionally develop the culture you wish to create?
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Don carried on the culture that Sam Walton created by intentionally communicating the vision and values of the business. He worked with his people to perpetuate the culture through dialogue. More importantly, he focused on asking how, as a company, they could continue to improve. The open dialogue created an environment that the culture could grow in. As a leader, look for ways to foster a dialogue that will develop a healthy culture.  

A Good Culture Brings Success


Don had taken steps to open dialogue every Saturday morning which would foster the culture that Sam Walton had created. However, a question from one of his employees challenged him to consider that culture doesn’t always come from the top down. It starts there, yes, but culture can grow with help from everyone. 



Don’s initiative became even more powerful once the people of the company started sharing how the vision and values impacted them. The hourly associates realized that they had a voice, too, and the warmth and passion of Sam Walton’s leadership trickled down through the whole company. 

What specifically struck you about Don’s initiative? Did anything surprise you? What and why?
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How could you give a voice to your people, so that they feel like they can participate in the vision of the company?
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What would your business look like if even the lowest-paid employee felt like he or she had a voice?
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Don concludes his thoughts on vision and culture in this video. He believes that culture is the key to success. 


If culture is the key to success, describe your concept of the ideal culture for your business. What is one thing you can do today to move toward that vision?
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Don has described the importance of vision, values, and culture in the life of a company. His personal stories illustrate his ideas, and the lessons he shares have a broad range of application. As a leader, remember that it is your responsibility to create and cast the vision for your people. By your example, they will see what the culture of the company should look like, and they will follow you if you give them a voice.