Whether you are the managing director or a frontline manager, having a clear vision and mission is essential to being a transformational leader. Your vision and mission act as a north star, guiding your team's priorities and activities. They need to align with your company's objectives and overall vision.
Most importantly, they have to resonate with people to win their buy-in. The truth is that most employees don't feel engaged by their employer, despite engagement levels growing in recent years. This is a fundamental metric to track, with employee engagement impacting retention rates, productivity, and other benchmarks with revenue implications.
Moreover, a vision and mission must inspire and connect with employees' values. According to a McKinsey study, 70 per cent of workers say their work contributes to their sense of purpose. Thus, when employees feel they're not pursuing their purpose—mainly through work—their production drops, and they likely will look for a new job elsewhere.
How can leaders craft an inspiring vision and mission aligning with company goals while connecting with their people?
Luckily, we've developed a proven methodology and have coached many business leaders on developing their vision and mission. Let's look at our key steps when working with new and seasoned leaders.
Steps for Creating Your Leadership Vision and Mission
- Assess your current situation. Depending on whether you’re leading a large company, a small business, a startup, or maybe a business unit, you have several options to help you understand your market and your place in it. A good place to start is the Porter 5 Forces framework, which looks at things like industry competition, potential new market entrants, the influence of both suppliers and customers and the threat of alternative products. Analytical frameworks like SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) or PESTLE (Political, Environmental, Social, Legal, Technological) can fine-tune your analysis, focusing on either internal or external factors that will have an impact. These frameworks can give you the basis of where you are organizationally and where you need to go and can thus help orient your vision and mission.
- Simplify your findings into 5-10 key elements shaping your group's future direction.
- Draft an inspirational vision statement that paints a picture of your ideal future. Keep it short but vivid; be optimistic, yet keep it realistic. Your vision must be tangible and measurable as well. For example, your vision might be to make transportation carbon-free. How do you see the future?
- Develop your mission statement. This should flow from your vision statement and describe how you intend to fulfil the vision. In the example provided above, your mission might be to become the top provider of electric vehicles in the world (or even the region). Connect your mission to the organization's core values and business objectives. The mission should rationalize your team's existence and resonate with your people's values.
- Allow room for interpretation. People need flexibility to apply the vision and mission to their unique contexts. Avoid being overly prescriptive. With your team, you can develop the values that link to this mission and resonate with them.
- Bring your vision and mission to life. Make them tangible through your daily actions, priorities and objectives. When leaders authentically live their purpose, teams follow. This is the most challenging step because the moment your company (or you as a leader) do something seemingly contradictory to your vision or mission, your employees will likely lose their dedication and commitment to their roles, if not your company entirely.
As mentioned above, developing a vision and mission are essential to becoming a transformational leader. Without them, you and your team will flounder. Employees will lack commitment to your business, and you most likely will not be able to keep good ones around long-term. But with an articulated vision and mission, you can boost team engagement, productivity, and results.