first job of the leader is to think through and define the mission
of the institution.” Peter
leader must transform the intentions of the institution’s owners,
as reflected in its mission, into work that produces meaningful
This requires understanding the philosophy and thinking that
created and guides the institution.
manner in which organizations choose to communicate their mission
varies greatly from slogans, to big audacious goals, to vision
statements, to simple statements of tasks performed.
These missions can be written or unwritten.
Regardless of the format used to express them, missions
reflect a purpose and vision emanating from some very basic beliefs
and assumptions that many times are implied rather than explicitly
The leader must think through and interpret these explicit
and implicit elements, the logic behind them, and their relevance to
the realities facing the organization to transform its
mission into meaningful work
organizations are part of a larger society and their purpose, work,
and vision (their mission) should reflect how they intend to
contribute to this larger society. Missions stem from a set of
core beliefs and assumptions that define the need for the
organization and the results it expects to achieve.
These are the fundamentals upon which every organization is
founded and are the source of its basic values and priorities.
society and the system in which the organization functions are in
constant motion, its societal role changes over time and may
eventually become obsolete.
Therefore it is prudent to periodically review the
organization’s mission and the beliefs and assumptions upon which
it is based to assess whether they still reflect the realities it
performance organizations are driven by a compelling sense of
purpose and a challenging vision. Effective
leaders must define their organization’s formal (or implied)
mission statement in terms that make it motivating and operational.
It is the leader’s interpretation of and enthusiasm for the
organization’s purpose and vision that determines the commitment and
energy level it receives from its workforce and the results it
defines the fundamental reason for your organization’s existence.
It answers the question, “Why are we doing the things we
are doing?” Since the
response to this question reflects a value judgment, purpose
statements tend to be abstract.
purpose is to create better things for better living through
purpose is to expand man’s knowledge of the universe.
it is abstract, purpose may not be unique and different organizations
could have the same or similar purposes.
Purpose is the source of commitment to the organization from
its workforce, supporters, customers, and the community.
People are motivated by a cause they perceive to be noble and
they enjoy being part of group sharing a common purpose.
The perceived value and appropriateness of your
organization’s purpose determines the level of commitment and
support it receives. An
inspiring and uplifting purpose will generate more commitment than
one perceived to be superficial or self-serving.
For example, “expanding man’s knowledge of the
universe” would probably be perceived as nobler than “conducting
scientific research in outer space”.
Either statement could define the organization’s purpose
but which one is chosen would likely have a significant impact on
the level of commitment, energy, and enthusiasm it receives from its
workforce and supporters (i.e. the Congress).
vision is to be the worlds leading developer of synthetic materials
and fabrics for commercial and industrial applications.
vision is to put a man on the moon and return him safely.
purpose may not be unique, vision is unique and differentiates the
organization from others. The
perceived gap between your organization’s vision and its current
reality is the source of the emotional energy that drives its
and vision are often used synonymously with mission. This approach has some pitfalls.
Using only the purpose as the mission statement does not
communicate what the organization does or what it wants to
mission is to create
better things for better living through chemistry.
there is no gap between current reality and vision, this statement
does not generate any emotional energy to drive its activities.
only the vision as the mission statement leaves out why the
organization is engaged in this activity and why people should be
committed to it. Example:
mission is to put a man on the moon and return him safely.
there is no stated reason for this effort, there is nothing to
inspire commitment. These
statements can generate short-term enthusiasm but provide no
enduring reason to maintain this support when things get tough.
purpose and vision creates a more meaningful mission statement
describing why the organization exists and what it intends to
mission is to create better things for better living through
chemistry by becoming a world leading in developer of synthetic
materials and fibers for commercial and industrial applications.
mission statement is capable of generating commitment from its sense
of purpose and emotional energy from its vision.
website provides some models that will help you identify and
examine your beliefs and assumptions and clarify your
organization's purpose and vision. See Examine
Your Business Theory and A
Strategic Thinking and Planning Workbook for Social
Entrepreneurs and Nonprofit Executives.