The Power of a Mission Statement

A few years ago, I was invited by a Fortune 500 company to deliver a webinar to 800 of Project Managers scattered around the country. I was going to teach on why having a clear mission statement helps people connect with the work or company, and I would use their mission statement to teach this. The only problem was that I couldn’t find their mission statement. I looked on their website, and searched on Google. I couldn’t find their mission statement. I called a few people in the company and asked what their mission statement is; nobody could give me an answer. How can a company this big not have a clear mission statement?

When any organization is fuzzy on its mission statement, they make it hard to show employees where they fit in the big picture. The mission is the big picture, and if that is missing, it makes easy to lose track of what’s really important. The mission statement helps you clarify what you do, why you do it, and the critical things you need to focus on.

 

A few weeks into preparing for this webinar, I got an electronic newsletter from a business friend of mine Tom Krieglestein, Founder of Swift Kick. I scanned through the newsletter to see what he's been up to, and my eyes caught a statement I had not seen before at the bottom of his email.

"Swift Kick helps Student Affairs professionals discouraged with the lack of student involvement on their campus, build a culture where every student feels welcomed, connected and engaged.

He finally added his mission statement. I shot him an email congratulating him on the clear articulation of his mission statement. I got an instant response from him, "thanks for the nod Kene. It took us months to come up with that statement; I appreciate you noticing it."

I had gone through this exercise and I knew how hard it must have been. A clear and simple vision statement is achieved through hard work and a commitment to understanding the complex part of what you do and why you do it. Then you work at asking yourself why, why, why, till you get to the heart of it. Once you nail it, your audience (those who need the solution you have will find you.)

A good mission statement:

  1. Is simple to understand
  2. Is clear on what you do
  3. Helps people understand what drives you

I delivered the webinar requested by my client and used the mission statement of other companies. I asked the participants what their company’s mission statement was, and the answers were all over the place. The senior execs who were dialed in realized they had a problem. They had been busy doing the work, and getting everyone doing their work, but they had never clearly articulated the corporate mission statement. Some may not have been happy with this but the smart leaders were.

If you are leader, make sure you and your team are clear on the mission statement. In fact, as a leader you should be the Chief Evangelist of the corporate mission. It helps you show your team members their role in the company.

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