The very first thing I do is teach my leaders how to write and live their mission and vision. Just writing these statements and hanging them on the wall is not enough. You have to live them every day.
A mission statement tells us, and the people around us, what kind of business we're in. General Electric says, "We Bring Good Things to Life". That's the business they're in. They make light bulbs and airplane engines and copiers...and a hundred more exciting items. But, everything they do "brings good things to life". Think how small GE would be if Thomas Edison had said, "We're in the light bulb business".
It's the same idea at one of the local television stations, part of the news and entertainment business. You get their product on your TV screen, your computer screen and even your cell phone screen. They have a sign on the wall that says, "We're not just a TV station". This station knows its mission.
A vision statement tells us, and those we want to grow and and change with, where we're going. Microsoft says its vision is to enable people all over the world to achieve their potential. So, every program that Microsoft makes, every improvement to their system, is designed to stretch their customers to greater achievements.
Years ago, one of my clients said, "Look, Dr. C., we're in the business to make money - and that just happens to be our vision, as well". And I said, "Then prepare yourself to go out of business".
Money comes as a result of a sound understanding of the mission and a clear vision of the future. When money becomes the mission and the vision, the executive loses sight of both the customer and the employees...and some companies slide into bankruptcy.
But companies are not the only ones that need a mission and a vision. We can all benefit from defining these two things. My wife is in the business of being a professional grandmother. My vision is to change all bosses and managers into leaders. What's your mission and vision?