Gary Winters

Coach  Workshop Facilitator Author

Does your mission statement bravely go where none has gone before?

Few ideas have swept through organizations in the last couple of decades as pervasively as the notion that they need a mission statement. Senior leaders huddle in offsite conference rooms for hours or even days, wordsmithing something they can bring back to the organization which, they hope, will take their organization to “the next level.” Don’t get me wrong – they’re sincere, they’re committed, and they do work hard crafting a document.

Yet, despite all the time, energy and money spent developing one, most mission statements are a flop.

This is not to argue against mission statements – I happen to believe in them wholeheartedly. Good mission statements are a source of energy – a rallying point, reflecting the beliefs, values and unique competence of the organization. They are an excellent resource when employees must make difficult decisions.

It’s just that most of them aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. They’re too long, they’re a series of meaningless clichés or buzzwords, and they have no heart.

A great mission statement illuminates the critically important thing that we do. It reverberates throughout the corridors of the organization, lifting our hopes, our expectations, and our performance.

Here’s a simple way to determine whether your mission statement has real value. Ask people to tell you what it is. If they hesitate, have to think hard, or or glance at the wall, it’s time to start over.

Laurie Beth Jones says good mission statements pass three tests:

  1. They are rarely more than a single sentence.
  2. They can be easily understood by a twelve year old.
  3. They could be recited by memory at gunpoint.

Does your mission statement pass those tests?

Here are three good examples from very different kinds of organizations I really like:

  1. Beat Coke (Pepsico)
  2. Provide world-class HR consulting services and have a life. (12 person consulting firm)
  3. Create Joyful Community Experiences through People, Parks, and Programs (Parks and Recreation Department, City of Brentwood)

Here’s another test of a good mission statement. When you wake up in the morning, do you get excited because you get to go do what it says? If not, you either have a poor mission statement, or you’re in the wrong line of work.

In future posts, I’ll write more about some classic mistakes leaders make once they’ve created their mission statement. Here’s a teaser – they often believe that once it’s written and distributed, that “project” is over.

Gotta tell you – it’s only just begun!

I’d love to hear examples of great mission statements, or, for that matter, the ones which fail to pass muster. If you share one of those, you can leave out the name of the organization. They’re already suffering enough.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is the sequel to the very popular “What Your Boss Never Told You.” Packed inside are more tips, techniques, and insights about the challenging, but rewarding leadership position.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is written in a conversational tone, as though you and the author were enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the issues that emerge for new leaders. It stands alone, and/or could be read before or after the first volume, “What Your Boss Never Told You.” You can start with any chapter and read in any order you like.

if you search for a book on management, you’ll find a staggering 600,000+ books currently available. How can you narrow that down? “What Your Boss Never Told You” is the best place to start.

No textbook here – this book is short and sweet. It’s designed to help you “unpack” your new job and be effective from the first day with your new team. It contains twenty-one chapters filled with the wisdom Winters has gathered from real managers – effective, successful leaders in organizations much like yours.

Leaders make decisions every day – big and small. Most know that if they include others in the decision-making process, the quality of those decisions – and the commitment to them – will likely improve. That said, they also know it’s impractical, if not impossible, to include others in every decision they confront.

“To Do or Not To Do” tackles the question of when to make decisions on your own, and when to involve your team. It gives you a deceptively simple but proven method to determine, when you are facing a difficult decision, how to decide how to decide.

Far too many meetings are dreadful, mind-numbing, energy-draining, productivity-sapping, colossal wastes of time. As someone once said, “To kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon.”

Here’s the deal: if you’re willing to learn and apply the techniques in “So, How Was Your Meeting?”, you’ll call fewer meetings, while vastly improving the ones you do lead. They’ll take less time, have more balanced participation, produce better decisions, and result in concrete action items for follow-up afterwards.

While there are thousands of books written for people about to retire, this may be the only book for people who manage soon-to-retire employees. Written in a casual, conversational style, “Managing the Soon To Retire Employee” will give you everything you need to know to move forward with confidence and grace.

You can be successful with Sooners. It won’t happen by chance, and it’s not a matter of pulling some management “trick” out of your hat. But you can learn how to do it, and you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Managing friends or former peers can be awkward. When you become the boss, everything about these relationships can suddenly be uncomfortable. There’s a new set of ground rules to establish – as manager, you are going be accountable for the work performance of friends or former co-workers on the team, and they are going to have to adjust to the fact that they now report to you. Everyone involved can feel awkward and hesitant about the future. 

Have you been approached by management with an offer to promote you to supervision? Or, are you mulling over the possibility for the future? Find yourself not sure whether to accept the promotion?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Help! They Want to Make ME a Supervisor will help you sort out a very big question: Should you accept the offer to become a supervisor? Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be confident that you’ve made the best decision for you and for your organization.