Mission Statements Don't Matter, Unless...

Mission Statements Don't Matter, Unless You Want to be Great

Mission statements don't matter unless you want to be a great leader - that's the title of a recent article that reviews successful cases of organizational leadership.

For school leadership, I'd take it a step further. Mission statements don't matter unless you want to simply be mediocre, at best.

Schools rely on a core sense of purpose - a unique selling proposition - because the service we provide is about changing lives. A mission statement removes the fog of daily work and gives purpose to something larger.

When you clarify your school's mission, you provide:

  1. Unique identity that defines what you do.
  2. Core purpose to ignite why you do what you do.
  3. A filter through which all goals and strategic decision are passed.
  4. Language that unifies teams.
If you're lucky to have a community that's academically advantaged, you can get by without a mission statement. 

You'll be average or slightly above average, but turnover will be a problem. Teams will have unresolved conflict. 

If your school has significant challenges, they will be magnified in the absence of a mission statement. Collectively stating your mission is merely the first step in empowering your organization.

I wrote a few years ago about what not to do with mission statements. Stating the mission is the first step. A mission statement doesn't matter unless you activate it.

A deactivated mission statement is one that:
No one on campus ever remembers or uses the mission statement in practice. Posting the mission and vision statement on the campus improvement plan or website, but never referring to it during decision-making, staff meetings, goal-setting, and team meetings. Making those statements verbose and eloquent, but they are useless.


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