How to Craft a Mission Statement That Inspires

As a business leader, you have a vivid vision of where you want your company to go. There’s an undeniable fire within you to make it happen.

But how do you light that same fire in others? How do you get your team to share your burning desire to achieve that vision?

In his influential book “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek emphasizes the profound impact of purpose-driven leadership. This concept applies to all organizations, for-profit and nonprofit alike.

I believe a compelling mission statement, rooted in purpose, becomes the guiding star that propels an organization forward and attracts supporters.

Crafting a Mission Statement Isn’t Just Buzzwords

While starting with “why,” it must also cover “who” and “what.” It should answer:

  • Why does our company exist?
  • Who are we serving?
  • What solutions do we offer?
  • How are we helping?
  • What impact do we aim to make?
  • Why am I/we doing this?

The Employee Engagement Factor

In an era where recruiting, engaging, and retaining talent is challenging, an inspiring mission serves as a magnet for top-tier employees. It’s the cornerstone for a positive, productive workplace. After all, an employee must answer “Why should I work here?” If it’s just money or benefits, they’ll leave for better compensation. But if your mission inspires them, who can replace that?

No one can because only you offer that mission!

A mission statement isn’t fancy words for your website or marketing. It must authentically reflect your “why” even if clever language could boost marketing.

Once you nail your mission statement it becomes your organization’s heartbeat and guiding light for decisions. It’s the glue binding your team and customers, making them think “This isn’t just a place to work or buy from, it’s a movement I want to be a part of!”

In other words, a powerful mission statement is the ultimate elevator pitch for your business. Not just a tagline, but a magnetic force pulling employees, customers, investors, and partners into your cause. When they get it and feel it, real magic happens.

The Who/What/Why Mission Statement Formula

This begs the question, how do you create a mission statement? Here is a simple formula I use:

  1. Embrace the Who, What, Why: Construct around who you serve, what you provide, and why it matters.
  2. Be Concise and Clear: Avoid jargon for maximum resonance.
  3. Invoke Emotion: Stirring language fosters deeper connections.
  4. Test for Resonance: Gauge impact by sharing with stakeholders.
  5. Align with Values: Ensure it reflects your authentic identity.

So, what does an effective mission statement look like? Let’s start with a typical and rather poor mission statement example:

“Our company strives to leverage synergies across emerging platforms to strategically enhance our value proposition and disrupt the marketplace through innovative solutions.”

This mission is filled with empty buzzwords that lack clarity and inspiration. It isn’t memorable, it’s difficult to understand, and, worst of all, it inspires no one.

Let’s contrast it with my mission statement for Peernacle:

Our mission is to facilitate trusted peer advisory groups where leaders continually learn, grow, and thrive

The approach I took to create this follows this sequence: What/Who/Why. This identifies my “what” (trusted peer advisory groups), “who” (leaders),  and “why” (to help leaders continually learn, grow, and thrive).

The language in my mission aims to connect clearly with my audience. But, more important to me…it’s the truth. It’s WHY I take time away from my family or personal pursuits. Because, as a former CEO/entrepreneur who had to “go it alone,” I want to create a safe environment that offers leaders guidance from other leaders so they don’t feel so alone. So they can benefit from other’s wisdom.

Should You Develop Your Mission By Yourself or With Your Team?

For new startups, crafting an initial mission yourself lays the vision’s seeds. However, pursue external input and alignment quickly.

For established businesses, extensive team involvement fosters engagement around a shared purpose. But too many voices can dilute clarity and meaning. The CEO or founder should retain control over the final message. Why? Because it’s the CEO’s responsibility to set the direction for the organization. That means vision, strategy, and mission.

Here is the approach I recommend:

  1. The CEO writes a clear first draft encapsulating his or her vision.
  2. Leadership gives targeted feedback, but the CEO decides.
  3. Employees and customers are informed of the mission but are not direct contributors to it.

This retains the CEO’s judgment while inviting perspectives. Unchecked collaboration risks a compromised, ineffective result. The CEO should integrate feedback selectively to craft a statement aligned with their vision.

Inspire Action Through Your Mission

An inspiring mission statement rallies stakeholders in a meaningful way. Follow these recommendations:

  • Base it on your core essence – who, what and why.
  • Involve leadership judiciously. Maintain founder vision.
  • Balance brevity with resonance.
  • Ensure consistency with values and operations.
  • Use emotional language and action verbs.

Invest time to develop a thoughtful, focused mission statement. The dividends – in employee retention, customer loyalty, and stakeholder support – are immense.

Take the first step now. Gather your core team. Brainstorm your purpose. And start crafting a mission statement that motivates your people to drive real impact.

People want inspiration. Light their fire with your mission!

As CEOs, we confront critical choices – growth strategies, succession planning, employee engagement, leadership development…the list seems endless. The weight of these decisions can feel exhilarating, yet also stressful. And lonely.

Even though I started an INC. 500 company, I spent too many years trying to navigate it all solo. I’ve learned every CEO needs a community of peers who understand the unique challenges we face.

Peernacle is a private peer advisory group where leaders in southern Virginia come together and help one another to make better decisions and grow as leaders. If you’re looking for a community where you can gain insight from others who have sat in your seat, explore Peernacle group membership.