Beyond The Company Mission: Creating A Powerful Shared Context
Why does your company exist? Do you feel connected to the purpose? Close your eyes and see if the answer elicits an emotional response. If the answer is to make money, that’s patently insufficient. Money is certainly critical in business but it must be the byproduct of being in service to something greater. Many leaders have developed a company mission to guide people, and we’ve found that the mission is only part of the equation.
In a previous episode, we went over five important elements of Best-Self Management, the research-inspired methodology that has led to our growth and success. In this, our 13th episode of the Best-Self Management Podcast, we’re simplifying things by presenting three key pillars to help your business grow and succeed
• Create a Powerful Shared Context
• Support People In Being & Becoming Their Best-Selves
• Cultivate Relational Self-Mastery
Your company mission brought to life
Best-Self Management all begins with creating a powerful shared context, which will lead to a sense of meaning that permeates your entire organization. The context is more than your company mission. It is the language, the DNA of your work culture that influences everything.
For example, take a company like Enron. Their shared context was to defy regulations, lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top. And what happened? Thousands of employees lost their entire retirement. Then look at a company like Patagonia. Founder Yvonne Chouinard recently refreshed their WHY: We’re in business to save our home planet.
Your shared context is akin to headwaters (where the river starts). If the water is polluted from the source, that will flow all the way downstream polluting everything along the way.
In this episode, we discuss:
• What happens when you create a powerful shared context within your organization
• Why it is critical to support each person in your company in becoming their best selves
• Preventing relational friction by cultivating healthy relationship skills
• The incredible role of any business to provide meaning in people’s lives and society
• How to create powerful company values that align with your personal values
The following is a transcribed and lightly edited portion of the Best-Self Management Podcast Episode 13, “Beyond The Company Mission: Creating a Powerful Shared Context”:
Shared Context Over Time
David: The context is not just limited to the purpose and the values. You are creating in language what the future looks like. Any time you paint a picture or create a Vivid Vision—a practice I learned from one of our advisors, Cameron Herold— you might further inside of that, have key thrusts, strategic objectives or OKRs for the company to align around. That’s context, it gives people purpose and direction.
Shane: Let’s go deeper into this, because sometimes people think, Ok. Yes. Vision, values, great! Where does the rubber meet the road? Goals are something that many people don’t think of as context. A goal or objective is the short-term immediate context that your life is shaping into. It’s why OKRs are so powerful when you get them right. You take the big vision, the big objectives of the company and chunk ‘em down to where every individual has a meaty piece to bite into to achieve the larger objective.
David: Exactly. As leaders and managers you have to be able to simultaneously work on different horizons of time. When we think about a decade or more, that’s where vision and values makes sense. When we look at three years, it’s getting more distinct. Ten years you’re thinking about impact, three years you’re thinking about building things in a specific way, one year you’re getting into the goal territory, to hit the three year thrust and the ten year vision. And on a quarterly basis, you have to chunk down even more.
The shorter the horizon of time, the more specific, measurable, and distinct the context needs to be, and that becomes a galvanizing force for people to come together and make it happen.
Shane: Then you want to think about how you bring that to life through group habits and group rituals. We have this context of becoming our best selves, and we bring that to life with things like our weekly gratitude reflections, meditations, and a health and vitality stipend where we sponsor people to pursue their own physical and emotional wellness.
We are giving permission. We are saying yes, it’s actually okay to go to therapy. Doing your inner-work, resolving your traumas and addressing childhood issues is not only not a taboo thing but it’s desirable. One context is, “I’m questioning my whole decision of hiring you. You’re going to therapy? You must be weak”. Another context is saying, “You know, vulnerability is strength”.
How we do anything is how we do everything. If you’re working towards your own emotional fitness, then you are going to be a better leader. You are setting an example by recognizing that everyone has their own mental health struggles and emotional issues, and we can talk about that. That sets a context.
David: Right! And creating that shared narrative about what’s okay in your organization and what’s not, that’s context. Creating specific agreements, that’s context. Creating a set of principles by which we’re going to operate, that’s context. It’s endless. You can create as much context as you feel is needed, and I definitely encourage you to not limit yourself just to the company mission, vision, and values as many organizations do.
David Hassell is a business columnist, speaker, and serial entrepreneur who believes that when leaders institute cultural practices that support each person in being and becoming their best self, high performance and uncommon loyalty naturally result. As co-founder and CEO of 15Five, David created the science-inspired Best-Self Management methodology that helps leaders and managers address the hidden factors that stimulate sustainable growth and development – things like intrinsic motivation, growth mindset, strengths, and psychological safety in the workplace. David has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Wired. Follow him on Twitter @dhassell.
Shane Metcalf is a keynote speaker on building a world class workplace and one of the world’s leading pioneers in the space of cultural engineering and positive psychology. His insights have been featured in Inc, Fast Company, Washington Post, and Tech Crunch. As the Co-founder of 15Five, Shane and his team support HR Executives with data-driven continuous performance management. 15Five has won numerous awards for their company culture, including the prestigious Inc Best Workplaces award, and is ranked #3 in the U.S. on GlassDoor. Follow Shane on Twitter and LinkedIN, and listen to him co-host the Best-Self Management Podcast.