Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mission-Driven Leaders

Sometimes it is interesting to peruse the business leadership interview column that Adam Bryant does on page 2 of the Times Sunday Business section. Today, Bryant does an interview with Doreen Lorenzo, the president of Frog Design, a company which contributes innovative design ideas to enhance other people's products.

Lorenzo emphasizes two points about leadership in organizations that also strike me as important: 1) Creative people want to be listened to and to see their ideas tried out; 2) A leader must be willing to articulate the mission of the organization repeatedly and to show how the work being done is helping to realize this mission.

These are, of course, at their best two integrally related ideas. What people are coming up with should advance the mission, but they often need help in seeing this, so leaders must be prepared to explain and elaborate on that mission whenever possible. Mission and mission-driven organizations are sometimes belittled by people. I probably was one of those people at one time. But I think it was after reading Bill George's work on mission that I became convinced how critical a clearly explained mission is. Such a mission inspires people to do work that is identified with the organization but that also helps to stretch that mission. This identification with the mission intensifies a sense of community and underscores the feeling that what you are working on is both uniquely yours and also helpfully tied to what others are trying to do as well. This balance of the individual and the group, of the unique and the broadly organizational can be incredibly motivating to people, especially those who are creative. I guess I just want to thank Ms. Lorenzo for stimulating these thoughts this morning.

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