What are your thoughts of a Mission or Purpose Statement? Here are three anecdotes on how they may impact an organization and an individual in that organization.

First scenario. A senior vice president reporting directly to the CEO was promoted to the next level when his boss retired. On assuming the position of leading a national 2000 strong operation, he decided to update their mission statement. His goal was to set the tone for his leadership and organizational culture.

To accomplish the task, he created an ad hoc team of five individuals at the director level, from different parts of the organization. He personally provided the team his vision for the organization, how he intended to lead, and the culture he was after. He also told them it needed to be one page and to be representative of the entire organization. Hence, the ad hoc team.

After a couple of cycles back and forth, he took what the team produced and reflected on it for a couple weeks. To test the new version he brought together a team of a dozen directors for critique and feedback. He took the feedback, made some minor changes, and published it.

The result; a one page mission statement with a second page of defining terms and concepts. He has since rolled it out across his enterprise. Traveling and speaking often, it is the starting point of every meeting. It has become integral in the onboarding process and is used to help guide decision making.

Second scenario. A new vice president moving from another part of the organization is replacing her predecessor who was recently promoted. In her new role she will be picking up and executing a reorganization engineered by her predecessor. She knows and has been part of the parent organization for 20 years however, has never worked in this area. The organization is just under 1000 total people, globally dispersed.

As she is building her understanding of the reorganization, she asked the question: “What is the mission or purpose statement that drove the reorganization?” The response was there was a lot of direction but not a single specific mission statement.

She responded by having the top three individuals involved with the reorg to develop a mission statement. She wanted to ensure she heard the thoughts from the people closest to the process.

This is an ongoing task. The end state will be a concise mission statement, she will take to the CEO for concurrence. Once approved it will provide clarity on the direction she is taking the organization.

Last scenario. My client is a mid-level employee who made a lateral move to a new team of nine. Her assessment of her new team is they are very professional with each member taking pride in the work they deliver. They deliver training throughout the corporation and it is a sub unit in a branch that is being reorganized. The team members believe they will continue in their overall role of training however, some projects may move and responsibilities may change. None of this is definite and the dearth of communication is a source of anxiety for the team members.

Here is a question I asked:
“If you were to ask each team member what the purpose of the team was, do you think you would get the same answer from everyone?”

I received an emphatic “Oh no, absolutely not!”

“When do you think you will have some more guidance?”

“Maybe in another 30 days or so.”

Taking the three anecdotes together what are your take aways?

For me, I see the first two as leaders deliberately ensuring they have defined the mission. Setting the direction for the organization right from the top.

The last scenario is an example of the negative impact the lack of a mission or purpose creates with those doing the work.

What have you experienced in your career?

In the research by J. Richard Hackman, he empirically determined a clear compelling purpose is an essential condition for a high performing team.

The first two leaders were taking great pains to develop that purpose. The third was a team without direction.

As a leader we owe our team a clear compelling purpose.

Thank you for your confidence in Great Transitions Strategies to assist you in reaching your goals; personal, professional, and organizational.

This year we have served over 100 clients across a wide spectrum; executives and leaders in large and small corporations, the government, military, nonprofits, students, and veterans in transition. We coached teams and groups all focused on assisting them to reach their full potential.

Thank you for the opportunity to make a difference in your lives. 

Great Transitions Strategies will complete 6 years of business on January 2022 and I want to thank all who have made this possible.

  • Clients – Thank you for your trust to embark on challenging journeys together
  • Fellow coaches – Thank you for your partnership with Great Transitions Strategies, you have made us better. Participating in a number of coaching communities has proven to be the greatest contribution to our growth as a coach and Great Transitions Strategies.
  • Support team – Thank you to all the professionals for your support of Great Transitions Strategies; D3Corp, Freedom Makers, and The Gardner and Appel Group
  • My family – for the constant support on this journey to start and grow this business

You all have allowed the vision of Great Transitions Strategies to become a reality.

To inspire and motivate, individuals and organizations to understand, embrace, and live by their values, mission, and vision.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You for a Great Year!

Do you feel any emotional pangs with these scenarios?

  • In a grocery store the toilet paper shelf is empty. In a checkout line you see a person with five packages in their cart.
  • A coworker makes a comment about not caring about the mission, she is just there for the paycheck and insurance.
  • A casual friend of yours, who has not responded to your calls and messages in a couple of months, calls out of the blue asking for a major favor.
  • Your boss is short with you and very passive aggressive. He always makes you feel guilty when you have a request, such as time off.
  • You send emails to a supervisor who never responds.

Take a moment and assess: what did your pangs feel like and what were the emotions attached to them?

I usually get a shot of adrenalin, followed by a clenched jaw, and tense muscles in different parts of my body. My emotions range from outright anger, resentment, and sometimes sadness.

The cause of your discomfort: the actions in the scenarios are out of alignment with your values. Something that is personally important to you was not being fulfilled or was being violated. Those feelings are an internal alarm alerting you that something is not right in your world. You may have even reacted to one or more of the scenarios by stating: “That’s not right.”

Values are our beliefs of what is personally most important to us and provide the motivation and standards for our actions. Therefore, if something is out of alignment with our values, we are going to feel it. Hence the pang and the emotional feelings.

So what? Better yet, now what? You have two choices, 1) do not take any action and live with the discomfort or 2) do something about it. This is not unfamiliar; this is how you live your life. Pick an event that made you feel uncomfortable.

A scenario may be a professional event at work. Maybe a colleague said something, a boss’s action, or a policy had that “pang” impact on you. Chances are you did not act immediately and the event simmered within you for a while. The more you thought and talked about it, the more it bothered you, until the point that you took overt actions. What made you act?

You took action to get back into alignment with your values. Actually, leading up to those actions you were acting all along to get in alignment. It just took time. The conversations with colleagues and family members about the issue were all actions to gain alignment. You were determining your path.

We do not live well out of alignment; it takes too much work. It drains our energy and makes us unproductive. I believe as humans we are constantly seeking alignment with our values.

What to do? Recognize your triggers and build responses that will get you back in alignment quickly. This is not easy. Let’s take a hypothetical example. Suppose a top value of yours is authenticity. You have a colleague at work who continually talks behind the backs of peers. They are very personable when face to face, but cutting and critical when talking about them privately. When approached in the lunch room by the colleague you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You know what is coming. Not dealing with this issue has you at odds with yourself. You feel, by listening you are being inauthentic. You are out of alignment.

That feeling is your trigger. Your values are telling you to do something. What do you need to do to move the needle back to straight up-and-down? Easy? Absolutely not. How much of a difference will it make in our life? Only you can answer that. The action could be a simple conversation, a more substantial confrontation, a change, or even a move.

What would be the impact on you to live aligned with your values? You have been there and know exactly what I am talking about. What do you need to do to get there? Triggers are sending you a message.

Here is a potential step to make positive progress. Pick one area in your life where you are regularly triggered by an alignment issue. Partner with someone who knows you well. Together build an action plan, to execute when triggered. With your accountability partner assess specific triggering events, your response, and the personal impact on you. My guess is you will move the alignment needle closer to vertical.

Effective leaders do the hard work to consistently live by their values.