Mobilize Your Mission And Vision By Defining Your Core Values

by | Oct 4, 2016

exec_coach_blog_dec_31A vision statement guides your organization and captures the reasons why you are in business. The intention of a mission statement is to define how your product or service is delivered. Together, your mission and vision statements define you.

Defining your core values forms the underpinnings of your company and reflects what really matters to the people working in it.

Vision is an expression of optimism, and the scope should be particularly ambitious. It articulates an organization’s guiding philosophy (e.g., the online telecommunication network Skype’s vision is “the fabric of real-time communication on the web”; the vision of the social media site Twitter is to “instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them”).

Mission identifies precisely what the organization is going to do and asks the question, “How will we deliver our products and services to achieve this overarching vision?” Often confused with vision, mission speaks to the performance of the business and provides direction to the organization (e.g., the mission of the Computer Sciences Corporation is “to use our extensive IT experience to deliver tangible business results enabling our clients in industry and government to profit from the advanced use of technology”).

Together, your mission and vision provide a destination and a means that managers like you can use to lead your teams.

Another useful component to team leadership that guides effective organizations is its values. Values convey your principles or standards of behavior and are a judgment of what is important in your business. If vision is the horizon, and mission is the means of transport, then values are the compass that helps companies navigate with clarity and confidence (e.g., retailer Marks and Spencer’s values are “quality, value, service, innovation and trust”). Well-honed values will aid your decision-making process, especially when handling tough decisions with a range of possible outcomes.

What Do You Stand For?

For a number of months, I have been working with a CEO, who was recently promoted to president of her organization. Part of the leadership responsibility in this new role involves selecting a management team and enrolling seven new individuals into her mission and vision for the company’s future.

To assist in managing these changes, in my role as executive coach, l encouraged her to look closely at the corporate mission and vision statements. In our discussions, her new team requested that we bring another element into the mix: values. A welcome addition to our discussions, the team wanted to invest in defining their organizational values, and then define how they would use them to make future decisions. They decided that “blue-sky thinking” is an important leadership value. To move forward, they want to be empowered to consider concepts that are neither limiting nor restricted in scope. This spirit or value of innovation will direct behavior when it comes to overcoming challenges and making decisions.

An Example We All Know

A classic example of identifying core values is Apple’s now-famous “Think Different” 1997 advertising campaign. In introducing the campaign to Apple employees, Apple’s visionary leader Steve Jobs paraphrased the TV spot’s key message: “We believe people with passion can change the world for the better … and that those people, who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who actually do.”

Jobs emphasized the need for individuals to identify their own stories and be very clear about what they stand for. Another example of a core value shows up when Jobs responds to an insult during a talk to his people: “Mistakes will be made; and that’s fine. We’ll fix them.” Openness to passion and “crazy thinking” is one value that makes Apple what it has become.

Guiding Success

Values are a galvanizing force, both internally and externally. They empower employees and leadership to take forward steps and tend to improve organizational performance. In researching Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, *** Jim Collins and Jerry Porras spent six years studying exceptional companies. They discovered that those companies with strong organizational values outperformed other companies by a factor of six and outperformed the general stock market by a factor of 15.

Collins refers to values as ideology “because we found an almost religious fervor in visionary companies … 3M’s dedication to innovation, P&G’s commitment to product excellence, Nordstrom’s ideal of heroic customer service, and HP’s belief in respect for the individual—those were sacred tenets to be pursued zealously and preserved as guiding forces for generations.”

What is your organization’s driving force? Are its values that are defined in your mission and vision aligned with actions and decisions? Are they clearly articulated and understood by employees and leadership alike? Taking the time to examine these questions can help elevate performance and clarify your direction for you and, more importantly, for your team of employees. You will discover that this is time well spent.

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