Leadership & the mission mantra

What is your organisation for? What is its purpose? Why does it exist? Can you or your people describe the mission of your business or organisation in one easy sentence, or better, a few short words? 

I came across the work of Guy Kawasaki who wrote “The Art of the Start” who tells us to forget writing mission statements because they’re boring, not relevant to the people charged with doing the work and mostly forgettable.  He suggests we instead take the meaning or purpose for our businesses and create mission mantras – using few words, create something memorable that evokes exactly what it is your organisation is there for. He has some fun creating hypothetical mission mantras for well known companies in place of their wordy, boring mission statements. And he suggests using the Dilbert mission statement generator if you just can’t let go of the verbose and pointless. It’s a hoot.

The leadership challenge is to create a mission statement that captures the real essence of your company’s reason for being. Something that your people can remember and, most importantly, something that helps them be clear about why they do what they do in their jobs.

Engage. Perform. Sustain. My mantra for Meridian Prime. It works for the range of services we provide. It says something about the ‘doing’ aspect of our work, as well as something about how we’d like to be: engaged; performing our best; sustainable.

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2 Responses to “Leadership & the mission mantra”

  1. partialobserverguySeptember 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm #

    I don’t think it matters if you have a mission statement or a mission mantra. As a leader, I think the important thing is to “live-the-mission” and be an example for your employees. If you want a “mission mantra” to be anything besides empty words, you have to lead the way. How does one go about setting a good “mission mantra” example?

  2. chrisgrieveSeptember 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm #

    A mission mantra can answer the “what are we here for” question. A chunk of the leadership landscape is about making and communicating real meaning for the people we aspire to lead. Creating and communicating a shared context (purpose/mission) and a shared direction (vision). I believe that understanding the purpose of an organisation is a fundamental piece of that picture.

    Empty words not welcome! They must be authentic. People will only get the reason for an organisation’s existence (its meaning) if we, as leaders, are also authentic. And we can’t manufacture authenticity. We have to believe it, and as you say, live it. We need to be authentic to the mission & vision, and authentic to our own values. Leadership is more a way of being, an attitude, than what we do. What inspires people to want to follow our leadership is that they get, on a visceral level, that we live and breath what the organisation is for, where it is going and we manifest our values.

    A mission mantra can be evocative, easy to remember and authentic. Its a tool. Then the challenge is about living it, breathing it.

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