Like people, companies have personalities—often referred to often as organizational culture. Cultures can differ vastly from company to company, depending on their collective values and beliefs. Whereas one business might reward bold creativity, another may place more emphasis on superior customer service. But for most management experts, it’s not enough to simply have key beliefs; an organization needs a mission too. Together, mission and values form the principles that guide an organization’s leadership to success.
Building a winning company culture—and, by proxy, a successful business—ultimately starts by defining your mission and values.
In today’s socially conscious marketplace, leading companies are increasingly focused on demonstrating a direct link between their business strategy and their mission and values. By weaving these core principles into every part of their practices, organizations can better position themselves to recruit and retain strong talent, cultivate customer loyalty and uncover new business opportunities.
Top Talent Seeks More Than Financial Fulfillment
Top-performing talent only continues to show a growing affinity for businesses with cultures that mesh with their personal values. That is especially true for members of younger generations such as Generation Y (Millennials) and Generation Z (born in 1995 or later), who are now the largest group of professionals in the global workforce. Increasingly, recruits are prioritizing the chance to create positive change over drawing the biggest salary. A sampling of the feel-good opportunities that young workers are seeking includes:
- Establishing equal education for traditionally underrepresented groups
- Creating sustainable solutions to combat the effects of climate change
- Addressing global problems like hunger and homelessness
- Advancing treatments for debilitating diseases
Workers of all ages are also seeking better work-life balance from employers, like:
- Flexible and customized schedules that support their individual needs
- Remote or hybrid work arrangements
- Individualized training and development
- Opportunities to participate in special projects and advance internally
- Support for physical and mental well-being
Ultimately, when workers’ and organizations’ ambitions and priorities align, productivity can rise to a new level.
Brands That Lead With “Why” Stand Out
A company’s mission and values can also inform core decisions surrounding its product or service development efforts. These choices can in turn help it differentiate itself from the competition and appeal to myriad audiences. For example, socks and shoes are among the most commoditized products on the market today, and many manufacturers’ and distributors’ offerings are largely indistinguishable. But scrappy upstarts can upend the market by finding ways to stand out, such as:
- Leveraging recycled materials
- Sourcing goods from local vendors
- Giving a portion of proceeds to charity
- Raising awareness about relevant causes, e.g., public health or social justice
A company’s mission and values don’t just define what products or services it chooses to offer. These attributes can also define how these items are packaged and presented. The fastest way to assemble and engage a passionate audience is to galvanize around shared ideals or interests.
Shared Values Can Lead to Shared Opportunities
As I've found from my organization, BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, the right commercial collaborations can help companies radically boost their capabilities, while lowering costs and shortening time to market. And, not surprisingly, collaborators that share similar values and purpose often experience the greatest success. One single company cannot expect to excel in every area or appeal to every audience. But cultivating partnerships can help supplement resources. Such collaborations can help companies do everything from advance their R&D capabilities to gain entree to a new regional market.
In sum, it pays to cultivate a strong sense of mission and values in your business. Once established, these principles can serve as your true north as you forges new paths to success.