How do you design a mission or a sense of purpose that will engage everyone?
The mission should be the collective voice of the people in your organization, not just the leader’s voice. The principle of “no involvement, no commitment” clearly applies to the creation of a mission statement. If you want everyone to own the mission, it has to reflect their thinking, express their potential, and appeal to their souls.
"Voice lies at the nexus of talent...passion...conscience...and need."
Dr. Stephen R. Covey
How do you find this “voice of the organization”? Stephen R. Covey said, “Voice lies at the nexus of talent [what we do well], passion [what we love to do], conscience [what we ought to do], and need [what the world will pay us to do].”
In other words, an engaging organizational voice or mission must appeal to people’s passionate interests, leverage their distinctive talents, satisfy the conscience, and meet a compelling market need. It’s not easy to fulfill all of these criteria at the same time, but the leader’s job is to combine all those elements of the organization’s “voice.” Leaders who do so tap into a miraculous power source.
Begin now to evaluate the mission of your team or organization:
- Talent. Are you leveraging the irreplaceable talents of team members?
- Passion. Do they approach their job with energy and determination, or do they just go through the motions?
- Conscience. Is your organization doing what it should do? Are you tapping into people's innate desire to be socially responsible?
- Need. What is the specific job your internal and external customers are hiring you to do? The job you are being hired to do is very different from a job description. It requires careful stakeholder analysis: What are they trying to achieve through your contribution? What are they willing to pay for? Are you in sync with the needs of an ever-evolving market? Are you staying on top of market hot spots, or are they moving away from you?
In today’s world, a leader has a moral imperative to connect the “why” behind the “what” to meaningfully engage their talent. This is most powerfully accomplished by thoughtful and deliberate design.
What you are really doing when you map out your mission statement is telling your team story. What anecdotes do you tell about your own successes? Your failures?
Imagine your mission statement as a lead story in the news — what would be the headline? What would make the story viral? It is the job of a leader to engage all stakeholders through a compelling strategic narrative on mission or a team’s purpose?