Successful leaders need a framework that explains what they are trying to achieve, the values and beliefs of the organization, and what success looks like. A clearly stated mission is focused and easy to understand. Corporate values define what the company stands for and the actions of its employees. Understanding this gives people common ground beyond the profit margin.
Profound and effective value statements do not have to use fancy or complex language. Instead, the key ingredients are to describe the commercial goals of the group and to allude to how success will feel to everyone involved, from customers to employees to shareholders.
A successful framework has six key components:
1. Mission: why the company or group exists and what the organization hopes to do.
2. Values: principles that drive behaviors.
3. Standards: acceptable behaviors.
4. Vision: the leader’s imagined future for the organization if goals are achieved.
5. Goals: four or five items the organization needs to accomplish to reach the vision.
6. Objectives: supporting goals that are clearly defined that need to be delivered if main goals are to come to fruition.
A framework is not about having rules and guidelines. Instead, it is about creating a structure that stimulates creativity and innovation. Too many rules can stifle employees because they are afraid of making mistakes. A strong framework guides decision making and inspires action because employees are all on the same page. Thus, if an emergency happens when the CEO or supervisor is away, employees will understand how to respond.
Effective leaders show employees how their actions contribute to the organization’s mission. This clear line of sight motivates staff to do their job to the best of their ability. For example, one evening President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters and stopped to speak with a janitor. The president asked the man what he did at NASA, and the man responded that he was “helping to put a man on the moon, sir.” The janitor could see how his contributions helped the greater mission. Leaders explain how every person is a key piece of an organization’s story, which gives people purpose.
People expect businesses today to be more than just profit driven. Customers have to see the benefits of an organization’s offerings. The greater public needs to see that companies are a force for good and that they truly care about people and the world. This means paying attention to the health of the natural environment, social and political systems, and the global economy. Taking the time to make positive impacts on business, society, and the environment builds a culture that can stand up to scrutiny. Such thought shows the public that a business is trying to find success for society and not just shareholders. Businesses like Unilever are leveraging the fishbowl to their favor. If the public is going to look in, smart leaders will give them something valuable to see. Unilever even launched a sustainable living plan to show people that the company is trying to be responsible.
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