Authentic leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection. - Sheryl Sandberg
A statement of mission is one of the most powerful things you can do, whether you are running a major corporation or a small team. It expresses the purpose of the organization’s existence; its raison deters and becomes the rallying point around which everyone can unite.
Often managers create mission statements because they think they should and then leave them gathering dust on the shelf. But this is to mistake the real power and purpose of mission statements. If put together with a fundamental understanding of what a group of people can achieve, they can act like irresistible magnets drawing everyone in the same direction.
It is one of the core roles of leaders, whether at the top of the organization or anywhere within it, to confirm, verify, communicate, and live the mission statement. Here are some of the ways that can happen.
Write your Mission Statement down. Although it can be used for promotion purposes, it should never be seen purely as a promotional tool but as the group expressing the best version of itself.
Think first about how the group benefits others. These could be those who work for it, those who are its customers, the wider community, or future generations.
Think in terms of being sent on a mission by a higher power. If you see the organization as fulfilling a role at some profound level beyond your immediate understanding, then the Mission Statement becomes easier to write. Your mission will have far more power if you get a sense of the business’s unique and particular purpose rather than simply re-stating its aim to make money for its stakeholders.
Tie in your Mission Statement with your goals, aims, and visions.
Use language that everyone can understand. The best Mission Statements are simple monosyllabic one-liners.
Do not worry about getting it right the first time. Just like our own understanding of our purpose on this earth, understanding your organization's mission is a work in progress.
So, keep at it and revise it as you go.
Of course, it is easier to say these high-sounding aims, another to find the right words. So, look at some famous mission statements used at various times by well-known companies.
1. Reebok: Our purpose is to ignite a passion for winning, to do the extraordinary, and to capture customers' hearts and minds.
2. Walt Disney: To make people happy.
3. Wal-Mart: To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people.
4. The Body Shop: Tirelessly work to narrow the gap between principle and practice while making fun, passion, and care part of our daily lives.
5. Marks and Spencer: Our mission is to make aspirational quality accessible to all.
6. Sony: Our mission is to experience the joy of advancing and applying technology to help the public.
7. Coca-Cola: The basic proposition of our business is simple, solid, and timeless. When we bring refreshment, value, joy, and fun to our stakeholders, we successfully nurture and protect our brands.
8. 3M: To solve unsolved problems innovatively.
9. Glaxo: We are an integrated, research-based group of companies whose corporate purpose is to create, discover, develop, manufacture, and market safe, effective medicines worldwide.
And here, to top these statements is the mission statement of Ringland Bros circus, penned in 1899:
“To be good, humankind must be happy. The mission of amusement is to wreathe the faces of humanity in smiles for a time, to loosen the chains that hold man captive to his duties, and return him to them better fitted for his obligations.
Amusement unfetters the mind from its environs and changes the dreary monotony of the factory’s spindles to the joyous song of the meadowlark. It softens the wrinkles of sorrow and makes smiles of frowns.
This is the mission of amusement – and the circus with its innocent sights of joy for the children and its power to make all people again for at least one day comes the nearest of any form of amusement to fulfilling this mission.”
We can, of course, write our mission statements. Making our reports makes writing them for our organizations much more accessible. Here is the mission statement of a working mother:
“I will look to fulfill my duties towards my work and family since both are important to me. My work is where I aim to achieve service to others, express my technical knowledge, and build harmonious and satisfying relationships. My home is where I aim to find happiness, peace, contentment, and joy. Despite all the challenges, I aim to balance work and home and the genuine needs of those who look to me to help them.”
Let the last word be with Paul Beeston: To live your mission is the most generous thing you can do. Your mission will always contribute significantly to your life, the lives of others, and the planet. Humankind and the world need you to live your mission. Your mission is part of life's tapestry; without it, stitches are missing. Is there anything more vital for you to do?