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Mission-Based Leadership

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Byron Marchant
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One of the common attributes of leaders that have high performing team cultures is that they have a clear, well-specified purpose that states both how and why the organisation makes a positive impact on the world. It's their fundamental reason for existence.

When you consider your team now, do they work hard, play hard and enjoy each other? These are the factors that are obvious to sense and gauge with teams. A more confronting metric though is, do they feel connected to the mission? Do they feel that what they are doing every day is important? Do they filter their opportunities, strategic direction, outputs and resource allocation according to the mission? This is the preoccupation of a ‘Mission-Based Leader’ - Mission clarity and focus.


Three Models Of Leadership

  1. Institutional Leadership

With Institutional leadership, it is important to the leader to ensure  that the organisation operates effectively, vision is clear and strategic direction is defined and all the parts are working together for the whole. Effectiveness is defined by the degree to which they can inspire loyalty, effort and high levels of functioning to achieve organisational goals. Think of a military officer or a coach of a sports team.


  1. Servant Leadership

A second model of leadership is not so much leading by directing as it is leading by serving. The servant leader seeks less of a command structure and more of a support structure that enables, unleashes people, and fosters exploration. The goal is to maintain the conditions under which people can flourish.


  1. Mission-Based Leadership

In this third model of leadership, all individuals within the organisation who have enlisted to the mission, are both leaders and followers. They lead in that they influence others and the organisation to realise potential. They follow in that they serve a broader purpose by putting the mission and personal preference aside in order to advance the cause. Mission-based leadership takes the best of the first two models and brings them together to serve a big purpose.  

In ‘Mission-based Leadership’, leaders are defined by why they follow, not who they follow or who they command. Mission based leaders achieve perspiration through inspiration because they first connect to the beliefs of others, and they craft goals and challenges that are meaningful. This is what contributes to a sense of life-satisfaction for people, instead of just job satisfaction.

I trust this article helps you see the importance of the mission-mindset for effective leadership.

My final thoughts on mission-based leadership is that organisational cultures cannot change by decree. Rather, change occurs when senior leadership is modelling the values and behaviours they wish to see throughout the team.

Leadership is not just a set of qualities that we have, it is a process for cultivating the best in others by consistently tapping into missions that provoke our deepest values and strengths.



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