How to Use Your Mission, Vision, and Values to Guide Your Company in Today’s World
Over the past few weeks, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our world has changed dramatically. The majority of us are adapting to the new reality of working from home, with limited social interactions, as we collectively endeavor to reduce the spread of infection. Many of us are also concerned about the health and well-being of ourselves and our families, and many of us are facing financial consequences as the economic impact becomes apparent.
We find ourselves in a time of great uncertainty where leadership is needed more than ever. Leadership that draws out the best in others, so we can collectively and creatively respond to the world as it is today — and create the world we would like to see in the future.
As a leader, being clear on your vision, mission, and values is a best practice in “ordinary” times. It is even more essential during times of uncertainty, providing your team members with inspiration and clarity for the path ahead.
With a well-articulated vision and mission, employees can align their day-to-day work with a higher purpose. This is especially important as younger generations enter the workforce — 46% of millennials and 47% of Gen Z respondents said making a positive impact on their communities and society is a priority.
Having clear values and a positive culture can be a true differentiating factor for organizations looking to attract and retain talent. In fact, research from Deloitte shows a correlation between employees who say they’re happy at work and valued by their company and those who say their organization has a clearly articulated and lived culture. My course, Creating Team Vision, Mission, & Values, is designed to guide leaders through the process of defining their vision, mission, and values with their teams and putting it into action. In this post, I’ll define each of these concepts and preview some of the steps I cover in more detail in the course.
Defining vision, mission, and values
VISION — A picture of the future that a company or team wants to arrive at
A vision should be inspirational and aspirational. Ideally, it’s big enough that there will always be more one can do to bring that vision into reality. One example is charity: water. Their vision is “Every person on the planet has access to life’s most basic need, clean drinking water.”
MISSION — What you will do, for whom, to achieve the vision
There are two questions to answer when creating a mission statement:
- What is the unique thing you will do to achieve the vision?
- For whom will you do it?
For charity: water, their mission is “to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.” This mission answers these two questions in a clear, compelling, and concise way, which is what we want for all vision, mission, and values statements.
VALUES — An organization’s principles or standards of behavior
Values provide guidance on how to work together to bring about the vision and the mission. One example is The New York Times. Their values are: Independence, Integrity, Curiosity, Respect, Collaboration, and Excellence.
During times of uncertainty and change, it’s especially important to lean into our values, so we can lead from the best of who we are as individuals and as an organization. Without a clearly articulated set of values, it’s easy to let anxiety and fear take the reins, clouding our ability to access our rational and creative capacities that support us to move forward in productive ways.
I encourage leaders to have conversations with their teams about how their company-wide values might be expressed in their part of the organization, and what additional agreements might need to be created so that each team can do their best work together. Guidance for how to do this can be found in my course, Creating Team Vision, Mission, & Values.
Given our current reality of social distancing and working from home, I recommend having conversations with your team about how your values (if they are already articulated) can provide guidance for how to best support each other. Explore how your values may need to be adapted, or expressed differently, to meet today’s challenges. Given the dynamic situation we are in, it’s important to have these touch points regularly so that you can rapidly shift and respond to new realities.
Create a sense of meaning & purpose as a leader
My deepest hope is that this course will inspire and empower leaders to create clear and compelling vision, mission, and values statements with their teams, creating a sense of meaning and purpose that helps everyone contribute to the greater good.
In my course, we dive deep on how to prepare to lead this work with your team, how to facilitate and engage your team so you tap into their best ideas, and how to integrate this work into your day-to-day operations so it can actually engage and inspire your team. To explore this topic in more depth, check out my course, Creating Team Vision, Mission, & Values.
Empower your team. Lead the industry.
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