Conversations about leadership focus overwhelmingly on how to lead. However, perhaps more important, is where the organization is headed. For any business leader, the goal towards which you are leading your team should be crystallized in the form of a clear and inspiring mission statement. A mission statement helps to codify and establish an organization’s values, guiding principles, and long-term goals. It gives a sense of the future and is a requirement for a company’s lasting relevance. Does your company’s mission statement effectively convey the essence of its message? Gauge it against this list of four criteria.
1) Is it specific? Opt for a number-specific goal instead of a nebulous term like “to be the best.” Numerical goals are effective because they allow team members to place and check off mental markers in sync with the progress. The resulting experience of hitting and exceeding checkpoints along the way is a strong motivational factor, too.
Example: To become the world’s first billionaire. (Jay-Z)
2) Does it represent your ideals? Ideals inspire. They give us a selfless goal that transcends our everyday concerns. An ideals-based mission statement works as a motivator for your team but also welcomes clients and potential clients into that altruistic fold. There are few things more powerful than the triple prongs of you win, we win, the world wins functioning in unison.
Example: I am going to democratize the automobile. (Henry Ford)
3) Does it embrace social impact? If we have learned one thing from the most popular movements in recent times, it is that people care about positive change. They are willing to sacrifice for it, spend money on it, and actively defend it. A business that aligns itself with that vision of change gains a powerful ally in the masses.
Example: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire, and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. (Patagonia)
4) Is it concise? Brevity is a common theme in the mission statements of most companies that have wide, direct public exposure. These statements are essentially meant for public consumption, propagating their ideals in bite-sized pieces. A tight and concise statement can also be an asset for organizations in the business-to-business sphere.
Example: Food with Integrity. (Chipotle)
It is important to remember that your mission statement is a very public element of your company. Ensure that it cannot be misunderstood or misrepresented and turned into a liability. For example, Jay-Z’s “to become the world’s first billionaire” may inspire him and his team, but it has the potential to alienate younger people who place less value on materialism. WeWork’s vague “to elevate the world’s consciousness” can seem pretentious for what is essentially just a real estate business. Only create or change your company’s mission statement in close consultation with stakeholders.
DeSantis Trusted Advisors provides consulting, advisory, and coaching services to businesses and their stakeholders with the goal of creating pathways to success. If you would like to discuss defining your organization’s mission further, please contact me today.