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How to create an impactful mission statement

The Power of a Clear Mission Statement

We’re regularly told that a clear mission statement is important – in fact critical to driving our businesses forward. A powerful mission statement serves as a ‘guiding light’ for an organisation, it aligns team members around a common purpose and inspires them to buy into and achieve your business goals, directing and motivating employees.

That said, when was the last time you could recite a mission statement from any place you may have worked before? The reality is, that most businesses have a mission statement – it just isn’t working. And the reason is – almost always – it’s too complicated. There’s too much language. Or it’s written like a poetic or legal statement.

Which, unfortunately, makes it a rather worthless mission statement.

Crafting a compelling mission statement requires careful thought and strategic thinking. By following a simple yet effective framework, you can create a memorable mission statement that drives tangible change within your organisation.

This article guides you through the process of creating a compelling mission statement and developing a set of guiding principles that will lead your team toward success.

Crafting Your Memorable Mission Statement

A well-crafted mission statement is the foundation for your organisation’s success. It should be concise, specific, and able to simply articulate your business vision. Follow these simple steps to create a mission statement that leaves a lasting impression.

Define a Specific Destination

Every great mission statement begins with a clear destination in mind. This destination should represent the primary economic priorities for your business. These are the specific goals that will boost revenue and propel your company forward. Avoid vague statements like “increase shareholder value” and instead focus on tangible, measurable objectives.

For example, a mission statement for a tech company might read:

“We will become the industry leader in cloud-based solutions, achieving 50% market share within three years by delivering innovative products that revolutionise data management.”

By defining a specific destination, you provide your team with a clear sense of purpose and direction. This shared goal serves as a rallying point, allowing each member to understand what needs to be achieved.

Set a Realistic Deadline

A compelling mission statement is incomplete without a deadline. Choose a timeframe that creates a sense of urgency, motivates action, and is challenging yet realistic and achievable based on your organisation’s resources and capability.

This example is from a nonprofit organisation dedicated to environmental conservation:

“We will restore 100 acres of endangered habitat and protect biodiversity by partnering with local communities, government agencies, and international organisations over the next 3 years.”

Including a deadline in your mission statement sets expectations that motivate your team to take action. They can then prioritise their tasks and work towards achieving this shared objective within a realistic and achievable timeframe.

Communicate the Importance of Your Mission

While specific goals and deadlines are important, your mission statement should go further to create a deeper motivation among your team. They must be able to understand the “why” behind your mission. Therefore, clearly articulating why your mission matters is essential.

Think about how your organisation’s mission will positively impact the world or address a significant problem. Consider the change you want to bring about or the solution your organisation can offer to improve people’s everyday lives. This context helps your team connect emotionally to the mission and feel personally invested in its success.

Here’s an example from a social enterprise focused on empowering disadvantaged youth:

“We will equip underprivileged students with essential life skills and opportunities, breaking the cycle of poverty and transforming lives through education and mentorship programmes.”

Highlighting the importance of the mission, in this case, helping to break the cycle of poverty, inspires your team to go further to achieve your mission. They understand the contribution their work makes to help with a cause and are more likely to be highly engaged and motivated.

Develop key characteristics for success

Creating a memorable mission statement is just the beginning. Bringing it to life requires you to identify the key characteristics your people need to accomplish your mission.

Making your core values meaningful

While core values are essential to any organisation, they often lack the specificity required to be helpful in directing your team. Words like “passion,” “reliability,” and “integrity” may be worthy and reflect the values you would hope your team possesses, but they don’t provide tangible guidance when it comes to identifying the right qualities your team need to be able to excel in achieving their objectives.

Key characteristics take these core values a step further by defining the unique attributes required to succeed in your organisation. They allow you to identify the specific skills or traits required when hiring new team members and identify developmental opportunities within your existing workforce. Consider the essential attributes for accomplishing your mission. Start by brainstorming and listing all the specific characteristics that align with your organisation’s goals. Then, narrow down the list to those most relevant and impactful.

Clearly defining and prioritising these attributes sets expectations for your team and helps them understand the skills and mindset required to thrive within your organisation and ultimately achieve the mission. Each individual should be continually encouraged to embody the key characteristics to develop and enhance their skills.

Then rank these characteristics to give your team members clarity on what is required to excel in their roles, and to help guide and prioritise their personal and professional development.

Critical actions turn guiding principles into real steps forward.

Next up, it’s time to define the critical actions your team members should take.

Think of critical actions as the daily moves that make sure everyone in your business is heading in the same direction towards your mission. Land on three actions that everyone can do over and over, to really shift how things are done.

These aren’t just any actions; they’ve got to push you towards your mission, they should show what you stand for, and you need to be able to keep doing them regularly.

Why do these matter?

Imagine if everyone in your company started showing up early, because a critical action is “Early is on time”. This simple change could speed up everything you do, showing how a small shift in behaviour can lead everyone closer to achieving the big goals.

These actions need to pull back to the mission, be something you can do often, almost without thinking and certainly without the need to ask questions. That way, they become a part of who you are as a company. It’s about creating habits that change the game, making your mission something you live, not just something you aim for.

The Power of Guiding Principles

Developing a clear set of guiding principles with a mission statement people buy into is essential for creating alignment, improving engagement, and optimising productivity within your organisation. These help shape your company’s culture and foster a sense of purpose among your team members.

Remember, a powerful mission statement should be concise, specific, and effectively articulate your objectives. Set clear goals, establish realistic deadlines, and emphasise the importance of your mission. Bring your mission to life by developing key characteristics that define the ideal traits necessary for success. Move beyond vague core values and identify specific attributes that foster aspirational growth among your team. Then articulate your expectations by defining the critical actions your team should take every day.

Crafting and implementing a set of guiding principles is not just about putting words on a page; it’s about creating a living, breathing blueprint for success that resonates with every member of your team.

The “Business on a Mission” framework outlined in this document and developed by Donald Miller empowers organisations to clearly articulate their mission, identify key characteristics that embody their ethos, and establish critical actions that drive forward momentum.

This transformative approach is not only a catalyst for achieving organisational goals but also for cultivating an environment where people want to be involved, where they are motivated to take action, where they feel connected and invested in the collective mission.

So, if you have a dusty old mission statement that no-one can ever remember sat hiding away in your staff handbook, it’s time to go back to the table and craft a set of meaningful guiding principles that will steer your team towards success.

If you need support developing a mission statement that’s fit for purpose, get in touch. We deliver bespoke interactive mission and messaging workshops that align leadership teams and leave them energised for success. Schedule a call today.