In my last post, I described the importance of a leader knowing oneself. The other foundational pieces that a leader needs to be successful are a mission and vision.
Now, I have heard many reasons why leaders or managers think they do not need to create a mission and vision. First, they think it’s pretty obvious what an organizations purpose is. But is it really? Is your whole team aligned to that and agreed on your direction? Did that happen via osmosis?
Another reason leaders skip creating a mission and vision is time and energy. Most leaders are trying to keep their heads above water given all the demands on their time. Plus they think, what good is a mission and vision anyway? Often, people think of mission and vision statements as static, unused documents that end up sitting on the shelf. That is exactly what can’t happen. Why do all the work if it’s not going to be used? Agreeing on how your organization will use the mission and vision should be part of the process of developing them in the first place.
Reasons You Need a Mission and Vision
A mission and vision set the direction for your team, but they can do much more for your business overall. Here are a few reasons why you should take the time to create a mission and vision for your team and organization:
- Trust the process. If you and your leadership team don’t seem to be on the same page regarding goals, objectives, resource use, etc., just the process of creating a mission and vision will help get everyone aligned. Assuming you can have an open discussion and debate, your team will have to agree on a purpose and direction of your business or team. Believe me, you will have a more aligned and cohesive team after the process is complete if your team does an effective job of going through the process.
- Stand out against your competition. A mission and vision can help differentiate you from your competitors. What do you do that is unique and different? How do you bring value to the customer that your competitors don’t?
- Give purpose, inspire action. A vision and mission can provide purpose, drive and unification to your team. Think of President Kennedy’s challenge of putting the first man on the moon, or Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. These are both incredible visions that inspired action above and beyond what would otherwise have occurred. If people have a common goal that is challenging, they can unite behind that goal.
- Align your goals to meet your vision. A vision creates goals for your organization or team. The famous baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else”. When you know what you do and where you are going, you can figure out what goals you need to accomplish to get there. Otherwise, you run the risk of dithering away your time, your energy and your money going after goals that don’t actually get you where you want to go. For example, if questions come up about whether a project should be launched, you can assess whether that project is truly aligned to the mission and helps propel you toward achieving your vision.
What About Large Organizations?
If you are a leader or manager within a larger company, you may see that the company has a mission and vision, but don’t believe that you have to develop one for your own department or team. I disagree! The mere process of creating your own mission and vision (that of course aligns with the company’s), and then testing it with your manager and peers, will ensure you and your team are aligned within the organization. Also, if you are part of a very large organization, having a more immediate mission and vision can help your employees connect with the larger organization. Your mission and vision will help close that gap for employees. Being a part of an organization that has a meaningful mission and vision helps satisfy a core human need for employees in that it gives their work-life more purpose. This is important for all employees, but even more so for the Millennial generation.
Taking Your Mission and Vision to the Ultimate Level
The ultimate link for your team is to have every one of your employees develop their own mission and vision. How do they contribute to the company and your team? What is their vision for their position? At a minimum, each of your employees should have a job description and the very first section should be the purpose of their job within the context of the organization. This will help ensure that you are aligned with each of your employees on their fit, and they have a clear direction for their work. If you share this across your team, everyone has a great picture of how the team works and how all of their roles contribute to the larger team mission and vision.
Be sure to stop by next week when we will delve further into how you create your mission and vision! If you haven’t yet, click here and sign up for our mailing list to get each week’s blog post sent straight to your inbox.
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