I love the movie Charlie’s Angels (and the TV show, but I’m dating myself). In each scenario the ladies are given a mission to accomplish. They always get that famous line…”Hello Angels, your mission today is….” Or how about the Mission Impossible famous line of” your mission should you choose to accept it is…” Every day is a new situation and a new mission to accomplish the overall vision of putting an end to crime by catching bad guys.
When working with clients, I spend a lot of time discussing issues that leaders face every day and working through how they can handle situations. The mission may not be crime fighting but they definitely serve an important purpose in the life of the organization. They also accepted the mission when they accepted the role of a leader. In my conversations, we talk about the options (sometimes in hindsight) and how to move forward. What I find is 99.9% of the time, the conflict they feel in carrying out their mission is deeply rooted in the leader’s personal value system.
Values are at the core of every decision we make as leaders. I think that’s a scary thought or at least one that corporations sometimes try to avoid discussing. It’s “fuzzy, fluffy and emotional.” In my own words, it can even be messy. Sadly what I’ve learned is according to some, it’s something that should be avoided in the workplace. I’ve even heard my clients say, “we are manly men…we don’t talk about our emotions or what we value. We just work hard and hit our KPI’s.” Being vulnerable and understanding the how and why behind decisions is not always rewarded.
On the flip side of that, I see those same clients consistently discussing their mission as an organization. What I find interesting is that as organizations, we create mission and vision statements but without understanding the underlying values. AND without that, it is very difficult to truly make the mission and vision come to life.
Have you ever been in a team building meeting and been asked to create your vision statement? You may be rolled your eyes or said to yourself “not again”. I think that happens because we don’t truly walk the talk and believe in it. We see it as a waste of time and something that will just collect dust on the shelf once we’re done. I’m not going lie…I’ve been there, done that.
I firmly believe, if done properly, it can change the game for an organization. It is the lifeline of how people and the work they do fit into the bigger picture. I also believe there is a lot of confusion around what a mission and vision really are for an organization. What I do know is it’s not just words that we post on a wall and claim that we all believe in them so we can get back to our “real jobs”.
Let’s go back to the basics and just talk about vision and mission for a moment. A vision is the impact you want to make on the community (clients) that you serve. For example, At New Dimensions Coaching, our vision is a healthy and purposeful work environment in all corporations. It’s not about the future you want to create for the company. It’s about the impact you want to have on those that you serve. I envision leaders joining me in this movement to change the way we engage our employees so everyone can have meaningful work in a positive environment.
A mission statement now takes that a step further. If the work was done and we were to say “mission accomplished,” the statement is about what you do and why you exist. I will continue my example with my own company’s mission statement. New Dimensions Coaching’s vision is a community where leaders create a healthy and purposeful work environment that drives positive business results. To bring that vision into reality, our mission is to empower leaders to identify their core leadership styles and the roadblocks that hold them back from creating a thriving culture for the employees and ultimately high levels of productivity.
Now the big one…and the one that is usually missing, but the one that connects it all is the value system. How will you go about the work that you do? It’s the whole notion of walking the talk. That means first looking at those that you serve. If you truly want to accomplish your vision, what values need to be present and emphasized to serve your community? Take that a little further, how will you reflect those values as a leader with the teams that you lead? How will you model the values? This becomes so important when it’s time to make a decision. Especially a tough decision…If you are not in alignment with your own values and the values of the organization, then it makes it very difficult to walk the talk.
Here are a few tips on how you live and breathe your mission, vision and most importantly your values.
Don’t assume that your leader, peers and team share your values. You know what they say about assuming anything…J You should be hosting that all important team building session to get it out on the table. You need to understand every one’s perspective of what it means to work based on the values you create together. It’s about setting expectations! It’s also about helping everyone see how they fit into the bigger picture so they can bring their strengths to the table. Create guiding principles that allow everyone to be on the same page about how you will operate and how you will make decisions.
Communicate, communicate, communicate! As a team discuss your individual values and how that ties to the corporate vision and mission frequently. Not just that one time when you were all together getting it down on paper. Once a month, start your meeting with reviewing the mission, vision and values of the team and the organization. What success did you have? Where did you fall short? Hildy Gottlieb discusses this in an article called 3 Statements that Can Change the World, “Absent a values-based context for decision-making, groups are more likely to default to fear-based decision-making when things get tough. And those fear-based decisions are more likely to cross the very lines we would have agreed we would not cross, had we talked about those values in the first place. The only defense against making fear-based decisions you may live to regret is to have discussed core values ahead of time.” Value conflicts on a team or in an organization can cause serious problem. You lose engagement in the work being done when the employees can’t see how they fit in or can’t connect with the leader and the goals they are trying to accomplish.
At the end of the day, an exercise in evaluating and possible re-defining your mission, vision, and values is powerful. It opens up the team to clarity and possibility. Nothing drives productivity and ultimately profits more than a team that is committed to the path and has been a part of developing the possibilities. Allowing everyone to put stake in the game and seek out how to use their strengths to create a win-win opportunity creates a healthy and positive work environment.
If you are a leader who wishes to join me in this movement to change the way we engage our employees so everyone can have meaningful work in a positive environment, reach out to me today. We can begin this journey together by getting clear with your team and shifting the energy towards profitability!!!