The work we do in higher education is mission-driven.
However, even when the mission may seem obvious, it is important for leaders to continually articulate that mission and connect their team’s work to it. In short, emphasizing purpose is an important aspect of leadership that motivates teams to do their best work.
You probably recall the 70-day rescue operation for the 33 miners in Chile trapped under 700 meters of granite back in 2010. Andre Sougarret led a successful operation, bringing together a global team of geologists and scientists. The effort involved millions of dollars, specialists from NASA and drilling experts from around the world.
The Harvard Business Review article “Teamwork on the Fly” reports that Sougarret had to continually remind the professionals about their shared goal - saving lives. This helped the diverse experts to support one another, which was critical to a successful rescue. Sougarret converged on that to discourage the typical silos that can impede effective work.
Communicating a shared purpose can inspire any team to focus on why they do what they do, in addition to the tasks at hand.
The varied roles in higher education can all be connected to the larger mission of the team, the department, the division and/or the university. However, no matter how apparent that mission may seem, a leader can motivate the team to reach its potential by explicitly reminding them of why their work matters.