Thoughts and ideas from The Physician Executive
Your Physician Leader Mission: Its Unifying Magic
May 2, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by The Physician Executive

In my last article, I wrote about the importance of articulating a Vision to shoot for. Now it’s time to turn to your Mission.

Physician leaders are often gung-ho impatient people driven to forge ahead with their latest ideas to advance their areas of responsibility. It is rare for such a physician leader to pause long enough to answer the question: WHY does this department/organization/business exist?

On the surface, it would seem a “duh!” answer – “to take care of patients, of course!!” But I would argue that there are lots of physicians doing that.

The deeper questions are: What are the special benefits our patients (or other customers) get from our organization or business that is hard for them to get all in one place elsewhere?
or, put more simply,
Why US?

These questions must be answered by all leaders with more senior roles within their organizations.

At its core, a Mission is a promise. 

It’s a promise made by the organization to its customer about how their needs will be met.

Think of The Nature Conservancy’s Mission: Working to create a world where people and nature can thrive.
Or The American Medical Association (irrespective of your politics!): Members move Medicine.

There is an implied promise in these two examples, as well as a sense of who benefits from the existence of the business.

A good Mission Statement answers three questions:

1. What are the key customer needs that we are serving?
2. What is the key competitive edge or unique quality we have in serving those needs?
3. What promise are we making to our patients or customers?

The most powerful Mission Statements contain some of all of the following elements:

1. Short (ideally less than 8-10 words)
2. Visual or sensory
3. Emotional
4. Punchy or humorous
5. Active

So, why does YOUR department or organization exist?

Once again, I challenge you to look at your existing physician leadership role, and continue your important business planning work by articulating and embodying your team’s Mission once you have clarified its Vision. I invite you to e-mail your thoughts to me at -- I look forward to hearing from you!