We are all doing business together in the Knowledge Age. We have the ability and the drive to connect. As business leaders, we have a voice that resonates across boundaries of department, industry, region, even time. And so does every member of our workforce.
When we talk about shared citizenship in this Knowledge Age, it’s easy to go directly to ideas like social responsibility or ecological impact. And while it is crucial for organizations to pay attention to their impact on those wide reaching topics, it is just as imperative to turn our focus inward to the citizens themselves. These citizens – the members of your workforce – may sit in your office environment every day. They may work with you over virtual networks. They may be full-time or contract. It really doesn’t matter how they are a part of your team. What matters is that they are global citizens, hyperconnected to the world through any number of digital channels, and they are the best representatives of your brand.
Every single one of them should understand why they do what they do. How, where, for whom – those all are important. But the why is your mission. And your mission is what informs the dedication and belief that every member of your organization has for the work they do and the messages they send.
Defining Your Mission
A mission is a short, clear, firm statement of why your organization exists. It is what puts feet on the floor every morning, what keeps the wheels turning as the afternoon stretches into night, and what creates a sense of accomplishment and pride as we close our eyes at the end of the day. It is who your organization is.
In an environment where innovation and profitability are queen and king, stepping back to think about mission may seem ‘soft.’ Yet there is no shortage of articles about the correlation between shared objectives and the ability to successfully innovate, transform, and improve financial performance.
We’ve spoken in the past about the importance of aligning company culture around a shared objective. The value of your mission impacts measurable factors because it inspires your stakeholders. It becomes a shared rallying cry that creates pride and motivates action, and in so doing, it helps to enhance the brand in the marketplace.
People want to be inspired. They want to consume goods and services free from a sense of guilt. We will seek the stories behind the companies and people we support with our money. While conscientious consumerism isn’t a new concept, it should influence how much value we put on creating a unique and livable mission.
Our entry into the Knowledge Age literally is defined by the emergence of the Internet technology that opened up a world of information and choice to anyone with connectivity. Now, people know more than ever, compare more than ever, and seek out what they perceive to be most valuable. And here’s where mission and profitability really become mutually supportive.
When your people understand why they are working and the difference they can make for the audiences you support, they have a greater sense of purpose and pride. It becomes a shared drive to deliver value, shaping behavior and the tone of the messages we share with the world about what we do and why. It makes people more likely to be proactive, to connect with the market, and to want to share the most positive aspects of your organization.
Which, in turn, can drive market leadership. Consider this – only about 40% of employees surveyed in a recent Gallup poll could articulate what their company stands for, and what differentiates them from the competition. Considering that your workforce is your organization’s most valuable source of brand advocacy – that statistic should read like a major competitive opportunity. Add to that, employees who rally around a shared mission will tend to:
By creating authentic purpose and a reason to become your most supportive brand advocates, you shape a group of global citizens that can help you to promote your innovation, earn greater market share, and drive growth.
Your mission is incredibly hopeful. Its measurability may not be immediately apparent. And it is not at all simple. But doing the work to crystallize your story and purpose into a short, repeatable, relevant mission statement is a must for leaders who view their organization and its employees as global citizens able to improve the world through the work they’re doing.
It’s time to share your purpose with the world.
Nina Martire is a Senior Associate who advises on strategy development, business planning and change management. She is focused particularly on the nexus of transformational change and strategic foresight, guiding leaders in commercial and government sectors to a better understanding of and an ability to plan for the future of their organizations. Nina holds an MBA from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and has a deep background in corporate and commercial finance.
Toffler Associates is a future-focused strategic advisory firm. Our Future Proof® business consulting approach helps global leaders understand how future shifts impact current decisions so they can take advantage of opportunity, manage risk, and create future value.
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