Your Leadership Mantra: Relentlessly Repeat Your Mission

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Bezos Blueprint" by Carmine Gallo. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What do you talk about most? What do you communicate repeatedly? Do you have a leadership mantra?

Jeff Bezos talks about one thing constantly. His mission is serving customers, and he makes his mission his mantra. In The Bezos Blueprint, Carmine Gallo explains that your mission, too, should be a mantra—easy to repeat and easy to remember.

Read more to learn how to develop a leadership mantra that infuses all you do and say.

Your Leadership Mantra

Gallo argues that good leaders have a clear mission that informs everything they do; they have a leadership mantra. For Bezos, that mission is serving customers. This mission infuses Bezos’s communication—not only does he constantly talk about his customers, but his communication principles are designed to make his ideas as clear as possible to a general audience.

Why and How Your Organization Does What It Does

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek agrees that your why (his term for what Gallo calls mission) is the most important part of your organization. In fact, he goes even further by arguing that what your organization does is actually the least important thing about it. Sinek describes an organization as three concentric circles:

The innermost circle is your purpose or mission—your why. This is the core of your organization and the reason for its existence. As Gallo points out, for Amazon, the why is the customer.

The next circle is how your organization pursues its mission. For example, Amazon follows its mission of serving the customer by providing a superior retail experience that saves customers time and money.

The outermost circle is what your organization does. For Amazon, the what includes offering a huge inventory, finding ways to streamline online and in-person retail, and developing original technologies and media that people will enjoy.

Discover Your Leadership Mantra

Gallo argues that your mission is whatever drives you—he describes it as something that you can’t help working on and thinking about. He also suggests that a mission should provide some kind of benefit to the world. He argues that you don’t have to go looking for your mission; it will find you in time.

(Shortform note: While Gallo suggests that your mission will find you on its own by emerging from your natural passions, Sinek argues that many people might not find their mission unless they take active steps to uncover it. In Find Your Why, he suggests that you start by thinking of a set of stories that define who you are. Then, share those stories with a partner and have them take notes on the main themes and recurring concepts—these will form the core of your mission statement. According to Sinek, only once you’ve done this work to discover your mission and put it into words can you take steps to live and work in accordance with your mission.)

Repeat Your Leadership Mantra

Once you know your mission, take the time to state it in a way that’s as short, simple, understandable, and relatable as possible. He gives Amazon’s mission statement as an example: Their mission is to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

(Shortform note: Whereas Gallo recommends condensing your mission or mission statement as much as possible, in First Things First, Stephen Covey offers a different perspective. Covey sees a mission statement as a form of personal expression and argues that it can be several sentences or even several pages depending on the individual. He also argues that your mission should go beyond your business by unifying your personal, professional, family, and community roles. Amazon’s four-word statement falls far short of this outline, and yet a reader might still infer its goals of, at the very least, professional and community roles, in its desire to place customers at the center of its vision.)

Gallo recommends repeating your mission relentlessly throughout all of your communication and points out that Bezos mentions customers almost obsessively. He suggests using language to frame and highlight your mission—for example, you could say something like “The one thing you need to know about our organization is … .” 

(Shortform note: Using words and phrases to guide the reader through your text and emphasize important passages is known as signposting, and it’s a useful technique beyond just communicating your mission. Signposting calls attention to the logical connections and hierarchies that organize your ideas and thereby aids in communicating complex information simply and clearly.

One of your goals in repeating your mission is to instill it throughout your organization. Members of your organization should internalize it and act in accordance with it at all times. Likewise, the wider world should come to associate your organization with your mission.

(Shortform note: In addition to repeating your mission, there are a few other steps you can take to infuse your mission throughout your organization. For example, in The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, Patrick Lencioni argues that businesses should base hirings, firings, and performance reviews on how well candidates and employees align with the company’s mission and values.)

Your Leadership Mantra: Relentlessly Repeat Your Mission

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  • How to improve your communication by using Jeff Bezos's principles
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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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