A business’s mission, vision, and values set a clear direction in which the company is going. These statements guide the behavior of people within the organization. However, it is equally important to support these statements through example, especially in leadership roles.
What are Mission, Vision, and Values?
A mission statement explains the business’s purpose; why it exists. It defines the company, what it does, and its intentions. The mission statement complements the vision and communicates meaning and direction to employees, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders.
A vision statement outlines the organization as it would appear in the future in a thriving state. While developing a vision statement, try to answer the following question: What would the company look like in 10 years if it achieves all of its strategic goals? An inspirational and aspirational vision statement is much more powerful. It creates a mental snapshot of the state the organization wants to achieve in the future. A potent vision statement should challenge and inspire employees.
A values statement expresses what the company believes in and how it will act. Value statements create a moral compass for the entire organization, including its workers. This compass directs decision-making and establishes a standard that actions can be assessed against. A values statement defines the deeply held beliefs and principles of the organizational culture.
Why is it Essential to be Mindful of these Statements?
In September 2007, Countrywide Financial conveyed a message to its employees. The message stated the following: “Countrywide remains steadfastly committed to our mission of delivering and preserving homeownership. ~Angelo R. Mozilo, Chairman and CEO ~Dave Sambol, President and COO.”
However, it was evident that Countrywide was more focused on commissions and profits by financing high-risk mortgages to unqualified borrowers. Once the housing market collapsed, these borrowers inevitably defaulted on their high-interest loans, and this spelled disaster for the company. Countrywide was faced with serious legal action charging it with deceptive practices to entice people into loans they could not afford. Mozilo was indicted for insider trading and was disallowed from acting as an officer of any public company. Countrywide was sold to the Bank of America in 2008.
The vision, mission, and values guide the behaviors of people in the organization. However, when the statements are not supported, people have no guidance. If the mission drove people in the firm, they could have corrected even the CEO. In that case, Countrywide might have avoided catastrophe and had a much different fate.
Change is the only constant. What does the future hold for your business? Take a moment to think about what has changed, shifted, and what you are doing to navigate the future of your business – are you conscious of where your business is heading? Do you have a plan?
The key to a successful business is an aspirational, motivational, and inspirational mission, values, and vision statement. However, to reap the benefits of a well-constructed foundation, you must build upon that very base. Once you set the direction, you may well change it over time; however, the intent should remain the same. If the company’s actions do not align with its intended purpose, vision, and values, then the business is doomed to fail.