My father’s side of the family was small. He had only one sister, who became a Catholic nun at the age of sixteen. So, I had no first cousins, or uncles, on my father’s side—only visits to the convent to see Sister Loralee or to my grandma’s house in upstate New York.
My mother’s side of the family was the complete opposite. Eight aunts and uncles, fourteen first cousins, and two amazing grandparents, Helen & Anthony D’Aquanni. I wrote about the influence Anthony D’Aquanni had on my life in my last book, The Heart-Led Leader. My grandfather was a heart-led leader, before I even knew what a heart-led leader was. And he loved family. He did not have a family mission statement written on the walls of his home; nor, did he laminate mission statement cards and distribute them throughout our family.
Why? Because, he simply didn’t need to. He led by example. And he lived out our family’s mission statement every day of his life: The three most important things in life are: family, family, and family. I heard my grandfather say these words a hundred times, as a young boy.
After fifty-seven years of marriage to Helen, my grandfather died at the age of eighty-two from an inoperable brain tumor. Our family mission statement died with him.
I love my mother dearly, but her side of the family has had more drama and family feuds, than a 1980’s soap opera. Brothers not speaking with brothers. Sisters hating sisters. Aunts gossiping about aunts. And cousin’s hurting cousins. My grandfather would roll over in his grave, if he saw the way some of my family treats one another. We certainly don’t live out his, “Family, family, and family,” mission statement.
My mother’s side of the family is not alone. There are hundreds and millions of families, corporations, and organizations that don’t live out their mission statement. What is written on their walls and laminated on cards is often not what is lived throughout their hallways, cubicles, break rooms and boardrooms.
I was CEO of an international leadership organization twelve years ago. In my fifty years on this planet, I’ve never founded, nor worked for, an organization with a greater mission statement: To build bridges of mutual understanding among all people – all races, all religions, and all political beliefs. I dedicated over twenty years of my life to this amazing organization. But, what I learned after two decades of working there is that as the higher one climbed upwards on the organizational chart, the further away he, or she, also got from its mission statement. In my entire career, I was never treated more unkindly during my exit from this organization. However, this experience taught me a huge lesson. Organizations need to stop laminating their mission statements on pocket size cards…and start living out their mission statement, at all levels of its organization.
In the last decade, I’ve had the honor and privilege to coach and serve hundreds of organizations and corporations all over the world. I see the same thing over and over: There are either organizations that wallpaper their mission statement all over their office walls, or there are organizations that actually live out their mission statements. There is a difference. A big difference.
This may come as a surprise, but I’m not a fan of mission statements. I get their purpose. I get their need. But, I simply can’t wrap my mind around why the values and mission statements at too many companies are not lived out.
Do you know what is even more important than a mission statement? A leadership philosophy.
It is quite simple. Organizations, families, communities, and corporations that serve others before themselves are more successful, than those that don’t. I call this leadership philosophy, Heart-Led Leadership. And when you build an organization with heart-led leaders, incredible results happen. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. And it’s incredibly inspiring to see… and even more humbling and rewarding to teach.
I have a close friend who runs a community bank in Georgia. I’ve probably spoken, or provided coaching, to over a hundred banks in the last ten years. Probably more. But, there is nobody like Jackson McConnell. This CEO does not need to wallpaper their bank’s mission statement all over their office walls, because this guy has built a heart-led leadership philosophy in every corner of his organization. And because Jackson has led differently—truly putting others before himself—his little bank isn’t so little anymore…it is one of the most successful and fastest growing community banks in the country.
I’ve learned something since the Heart-Led Leader was published five years ago. Leaders that proclaim themselves as Heart-Led Leaders are, most likely, not. And organizations that wallpaper their offices and laminate cards with their lofty mission statements, value statements, and purpose statements are, most likely, not living them out.
It doesn’t matter if you are a family, an organization, or a fortune 500 corporate giant. The world is starving for a new leadership philosophy. The world needs more Sister Loralee’s, Anthony D’Aquanni’s and Jackson McConnell’s. And the world needs to stop wallpapering their walls and passing out those damn mission statement cards…and do what Heart-Led Leaders do…choose to LIVE it out rather than LAMINATE it out!
Interested in building and living out a mission-driven culture that’s truly anchored in heart-led leadership principles? If so, I’d encourage you to read my book, The Heart-Led Leader, or to visit our website to learn more about how you can get started on your organization’s heart-led leadership journey today!