Three reasons why any Team needs Mission and Values

You started your business our of a deep passion for something; you have a dream, a vision that you would like to reach. Or maybe you are in a managerial or leadership position, and you have an idea of what your Team can achieve and become.

That’s is amazing! 

But as Joel A. Barker puts it “Vision without action is merely a dream.” If you want your dream to become vision, action must be taken. And if you rely on others to help you with the action, you need to help them see and understand your vision by pointing them in the right direction and helping define the behaviors that will lead them there.

That’s where the mission and values come in place.

Let’s look closer at the three main reasons why your team and organization need them.

1. Mission shows the way

If Vision is “the why,” Mission is “the how”.

Vision explains the core purpose and answers question: why do we exist? The Mission is a directional sign pointing to the ultimate destination. To be effective, it must align with your vision so that you as a leader can exude full confidence in the mission and inject this belief and passion you have into your team.

The mission should also balance the possible with the impossible as Jack Welch puts in in his book “Winning.” We all aspire to be a part of something bigger than us but at the same time small enough that it feels achievable.

Let me help you with an example.

Imagine you have a vision of spending quality time with your family or friends on an amazing vacation that will be just perfect!

Once you decided the destination you still need directions and decision on how you are going to get there: by plane, train or maybe it’s a road trip in an RV? Even if you are not a planning obsessed vacationer, you would need a general idea on where you are going to stay overnight, and how you are going to spend your time.

Also “perfect vacation” is something aspirational. You know that during that time there will be less than perfect moments: cranky toddler throwing a tantrum after having too much sugar or two of your best friends having heated conservation over something that might end up in 10 mins of the awkward silence. But overall if everyone believes in the mission and is aligned, you will have the time of your life and lots of amazing memories to go with it afterwards.

OK, so where do the Values fit then you ask?

Once you have the Mission, the next step would be defining the Values.

2. Values help to shape your Culture

Values will describe how do you and your team behave on the journey. Together with the mission, they will have a significant role in defining your organizational culture and giving you a unique advantage over others.

Let’s go back to our vacation story.

Imagine you and your family or friends established some key behaviors that were important to all of you and agreed that if everyone behaved in such a way, the vacation would be close to perfect! Here are a couple of examples: maybe your vision is to have “disconnected, active vacation with nature,” i.e., no electronics, phone, internet, instead hikes in the woods, swimming in the lake, campfires, long conversations and time spent together.

But maybe better behaviors to follow would be complete laziness for a week: sitting on a beach, reading, relaxing with some screen time in the evening.

Defining the Values as a team will bring great ideas to the table, show you more creative ways to accomplish the Mission and get buy-in from all the team members.

Then, when you embark on the journey, and everyone behaves in alignment, collectively you start creating a unique culture, unique environment for your organization.

If up till now you are still skeptical about the need for mission and values, I hope you change your mind after reading the 3rd reason.

3. Alignment of all three brings the power of focus

Once you know how you are going to make your Vision reality: with the Mission that keeps directing the team towards the dream and Values that will make it clear how to behave, you can now focus on enjoying the journey!

When everyone is rowing in the same direction, you as captain can focus on working with and supporting the Team on getting there. Not having to waste time to attend to chaos all the time, you can have fun.

Our vacation example will make it clear.

Imagine you did not discuss and decide with your family or friends on the type of vacation you wanted to take or the main behaviors that were important to you all.

And now instead of enjoying the time and making vacation memories, you are trying to figure out at 9 pm where you are going to sleep, or spending 2 hrs every morning discussing whether it’s time for relaxation and doing nothing or going out to explore the area. Imagine how much stress and chaos all of you would go through, or worse how much valuable time you’d lose to come to a consensus that would undoubtedly leave someone unhappy anyways.

In short, the extreme focus you and your team get from having a clear Mission and Values aligned with the Vision is undeniable. You will be able to tap to the full potential of the time you have, grasp the opportunities that will pop up and enjoy the adventure.

To summarize, organizational Mission and Values, if supported by the leader that lives and breathes them every day have the power to create a better bond and alignment between team members. Being part of something big, having a purpose and understanding how to achieve it will help your people to feel united, work well together and tap to the potential that is much greater than a mathematical sum of individual contributions. In cohesive teams 1 + 1 = 3 or more and as a leader you have the privilege and great opportunity to facilitate that.

Mission and Values are the start, so don’t let your vision stay a mere dream, act!

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