North Star

Having worked with thousands of CEOs over three decades, I’ve realised the the mission statements of most companies are more or less the same as each other. Most CEOs say their mission involves something about clients, integrity, people…

I’d call this Level 1: plodding, copy-paste phrases that just aren’t inspiring.

So when I ask executives what their values are, many just can’t recall. In fact, I’ve found that at least 9 out of 10 CEOs struggle to remember their own mission statement.

This is because their mission statement is uninspiring.

But if your mission statement - the summary of all your core beliefs, what you get excited about, what you are committed to - is lacking inspiration, how can you expect that your people will feel inspired?

What your company really needs is a North Star. A North Star is a guiding light for where the company wants to go and the main steps on the journey to getting there.

Your North Star needs to encapsulate your company’s purpose, ambition, future winning position, new way of working, strategy and transformation points. It can’t be just another copy-paste job.

But creating a North Star, your company will focus on the real issues and opportunities, and become galvanised and inspired towards a unified goal.

How do you build a North Star in practice?

When working with companies to construct a North Star, we begin by providing the framework then get the management team to contribute their ideas. We encourage everyone to reflect on why they want to implement these ideas and create a robust discussion amongst the team members.

A good starting point is to look at other companies that inspire you. This might include grand visions that you draw from other companies or a set of values that resonate with you.


Once each section of the North Star has been discussed with the executive team, we drill down until we’ve created something that everyone belies in and buys in to.

As your North Star becomes central to your business, you’re start building and using a language within your executive team that will help them inspire others throughout the company.

Try it for just three months. I’m sure that way before the quarter is over, everyone will be speaking the same language.

So does you company have a big ambition? A meaningful purpose? A winning future position? What’s your North Star? How are you going to get your executive team building an inspiring future vision for your company?

Stacey Williams