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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

Mission Statements

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #126

On August 5, 2023, I led a workshop for the Saint Francis University Executive Leadership and Innovation Doctoral cohort on defining their mission statement. The participants in the program are scholars of practice and accomplished professionals in their respective fields. Before and since the workshop, I've been thinking about the topic of mission statements, specifically focusing on how organizations can align values with actions to the mission statement to achieve success.

Before starting my career, I was unaware that an organizational mission statement existed. During my first stint on a strategic planning committee, I assisted in composing one, though it wasn’t mentioned much afterward. Since then, I've lent a hand in creating numerous mission statements and led organizations to reach a consensus on their statements. This article discusses the mission statement's purpose and how it can be utilized.

What is the purpose?

The generally agreed intent of a mission statement is to communicate the core purpose of the organization, business, or individual. Well-written mission statements provide a mental image of why the organization exists. It helps define what the organization stands for and wants to achieve. It outlines the reason the organization exists.

What can a mission statement do?

  1. Identity and Direction: The mission statement articulates the organization's purpose, describing its core values and desired outcomes. It serves as a guiding light to steer all activities within the organization, enabling everyone to stay on track toward fulfilling its ambition.

  2. Communication: A mission statement that has been created with skill and care serves multiple functions, both internally and externally. It conveys the organization's purpose and values to employees, stakeholders, customers, and the public. Such a statement promotes transparency and consistency in messaging by clearly outlining what the company stands for and its goals.

  3. Inspiration and Motivation: A well-articulated mission statement can ignite passion and creativity within employees, cultivating a strong sense of dedication and purpose toward the organization's objectives. It creates an environment for team members to engage in shared goals and work collaboratively to drive success.

  4. Decision-Making: When making a tough decision or formulating a plan of action, a mission statement can be used as a guide to ensure the chosen course aligns with the core purpose and values of the organization.

  5. Brand Building: A mission statement is essential to crafting a well-defined brand identity. It sets the tone for how stakeholders (value network) perceive the organization, making it clear what its goals are and the values it holds dear.

  6. Long-Term Focus: The mission statement helps the organization look beyond immediate goals and objectives, providing a clearer sense of purpose for the long term. It encourages staying focused on its core goals.

  7. Accountability: The mission statement outlines the organization's expected outcomes, allowing for evaluation of its progress and holding it responsible for achieving its goals.

Measuring Progress

I've been thinking about what it means to achieve progress in line with the declared mission. Penning a well-crafted mission statement and displaying it in prominent places is all very good. Still, leaders should also ask themselves: are we using appropriate methods to measure our success against this mission? The following image illustrates ways that can be linked directly to the organization's mission.

An effective mission statement encapsulating the organization's goals and values can be a powerful asset when striving for success. These benefits are realized only through aligning activities, monitoring progress, and working to achieve the mission.


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