Veronika Scott was compelled to solve a problem in her Detroit community. There is a homeless population that lives on the streets and in abandoned buildings. When winter comes, they need warmth. Veronika, a clothing designer, had an idea. She created a coat for homeless people that is extremely warm, waterproof, converts into a sleeping bag, and transforms into an over-the-shoulder bag when not worn. The coats are sewn by homeless people hired to do this work.
“It is because of this model and the strength of those we employ, that every single person has moved out of the shelter within the first 4-6 weeks of working with us and no one has returned to homelessness once we’ve hired them.”Empowerment Plan website
Over the next five blogs, I am going to focus on Five Guiding Principles for a Positive Performance Culture. Veronika’s story illustrates the first guiding principle: We know where we are going!
The key word in this guiding principle is “going”. Going is the act of leaving or departing. When leaving is it best to have a destination. Otherwise, one is leaving to go nowhere. Thus, knowing the destination is necessary for a positive performance culture.
In order to get to the destination, there are three important leadership practices.
- Purpose – Each person understands the reason for the work. As a leader, it is your responsibility to clearly understand the purpose of your work and to help others gain this understanding for themselves. The purpose of Veronika’s organization is to help homeless people.
- Vision – Each person knows the future state we are pursuing. As a leader, it is your responsibility to collaboratively craft the future state and communicate it in an inspiring manner, so others want to go there. The vision of Veronika’s organization is two-fold. First, to provide warm multifunctional coats for the homeless, and second to provide work and training for homeless people to provide for themselves.
- Goals – Each person has established clear goals. As a leader, it is your responsibility to write goals for yourself and help others write their goals. According to Veronika’s organizational website (Empowerment Plan), “Our goal is to help employees secure jobs beyond Empowerment Plan.”
Sherika Lane is a seamstress that makes coats with Empowerment Plan. She says, “This is the first job that has given me a sense of self-worth and value.”
Sherika sounds like a person who knows where she is going with purpose, vision, and clear goals.
- Where are you going?
- What is your understanding of your purpose, vision, and goals?
- What do others within your influence understand as their purpose, vision, and goals?