Each one of us has deeply held beliefs that motivate us to action. This is part of what it is to be human. It is embedded in our humanity to pursue virtue, or a habitual and firm disposition to do good. Our character is inextricably linked with virtue, because good character is built through the practice and habituation of virtues (Newstead, Dawkins, & Martin, 2019).
It is no wonder, then, that mission-driven organizations have become so desirable to today’s workforce. Working for a mission-driven organization offers a powerful avenue for the exercise of virtues through the expression and implementation of positive contributions to society (Maciariell, 2006).
I recently transitioned from NYC Health and Hospitals to Adventist HealthCare. During this transition process, it became abundantly clear that the organization’s mission is a determining factor before working in any organization. Both organizations have mission statements that align with my personal values and virtues. NYC Health and Hospitals, the largest public health care system has the mission “to extend equally to all New Yorkers, regardless of their ability to pay, comprehensive health services of the highest quality in an atmosphere of humane care, dignity, and respect,” and Adventist HealthCare, is a faith-based health system providing Christ-centered care to meet the need of quality and accessible healthcare for the local community by “extending God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing” (NYC Health and Hospitals, 2021; Adventist HealthCare, 2021).
The importance of a compelling mission statement
At its best, an organization’s mission “defines and upholds” what an organization stands for (Craig, 2018). Several studies suggest that there is a positive correlation between mission statements and organizational performance. In fact, the highest performing organizations are often the ones with more comprehensive mission statements—speaking to corporate philosophy, self-concept, public image, and financial performance (Kadhium, Betteg, Sharma, & Nalliah, 2021; Bartkus, Glassman, & McAfee, 2006; Rarick & Vitton, 1995; Desmidt, Prinzie, & Decramer, 2011; Ranasinghe, 2010).
The mission statement of a healthcare organization is an essential strategic tool that captures an organization’s “enduring purpose, practices, and core values” (Trybou, Gemmel, Desmidt, & Annemans, 2017; Bart & Hupfer, 2004). Individuals are attracted to an organization as their personal motivation aligns with the mission and intrinsic factors meet individual interests. A compelling shared mission keeps everyone’s focus on the greater primary purpose and goal of the work they are doing. It also provides guardrails and direction for decision-making in times of unpredictability or conflict (Ansary, 2019). Collaborating between leadership and staff on how to unite and put into practice the organization’s mission is a sign of a truly mission-driven, successful and healthy organization (Trybou, Gemmel, Desmidt, & Annemans, 2017).
Finding the “why”
Simon Sinek, leadership guru and founder of SinekPartners, states: “The value of our lives is not determined by what we do for ourselves. The value of our lives is determined by what we do for others” (Sinek, 2014).